Thursday, June 02, 2016

Led by Solar and Wind, Renewable Energy Grew Like Never Before Last Year

Henry Plange, a power generation engineer, checks temperatures of solar panels at the Space Coast Next Generation Solar Center, in Merritt Island, Fla. (Photo Credit: AP/John Raoux) Click to Enlarge.
The world added more renewable energy capacity than ever before last year, despite tumbling prices for fossil fuels, a new report has found.

An estimated 147 gigawatts of renewable capacity was added in 2015, the largest annual increase ever, the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) said in its most recent report, unveiled Tuesday.  For perspective, one gigawatt is enough energy to power Walt Disney World for nearly 17 days.

Solar PV Global Capacity and Annual Additions, 2005-2015 (Credit: REN21) Click to Enlarge.
Solar and wind energy saw record additions for the second consecutive year, accounting for about 77 percent of new installations, according to the report.  Hydropower represented most of the rest.  By the end of 2015, the world had enough renewable energy to supply nearly 24 percent of global electricity, though hydropower provided about 17 percent of that capacity.  Not including hydropower, China tops the list for renewable energy capacity, followed by the United States, Germany, Japan, and India.

Renewable energy growth comes amid declining fossil fuel prices and continuing fossil fuel subsidies, as well as amid regulatory barriers in parts of the world.  Meanwhile, employment in the renewable energy sector — not including large-scale hydropower — increased to an estimated 8.1 million jobs last year.  The leading renewable energy employers last year were China, Brazil, the United States, and India, according to the report.

It notes, too, that global investment in renewables has increased.  And indeed, renewable energy investment set a new world record in 2015, with emerging economies led by China topping the investment of developed nations for the first time.  Last year, the world invested $286 billion in green energy — some 3 percent more than the last record set in 2011 — mostly on wind and solar.

This REN21 report is the latest to document an exponential growth in global renewable energy development.  Most reports this year have dissected investment figures, not actual power capacity installed.  Either way, renewables growth has been ongoing year after year, and it’s happening while many see renewables as an important tool to keep up economic growth, and the only way to steer the energy system to the low-carbon future envisioned in the Paris agreement.  Countries seem to be committed to renewable energy:  Some 110 countries out of 196 on the planet have a some kind of renewable energy policy in place, according to the report.  Countries are also aiming for efficiency.  By the end of last year, at least 146 countries had enacted an energy efficiency policy, and at least 128 countries had one or more energy efficiency targets.

Read more at Led by Solar and Wind, Renewable Energy Grew Like Never Before Last Year

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