Record boost for renewables

Lower prices for solar and wind power have contributed to new renewable energy deals across the world, despite recent investment in renewables falling.

The REN21 Renewables Global Status Report says that the new renewable energy capacity installed worldwide in 2016 reached 161GW, marking a new record and a 10 per cent rise on 2015.

New power deals in Denmark, Egypt, India, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates were all priced well below fossil fuel or nuclear options, with the new record capacity cost $242 billion, representing a 23 per cent reduction in investment compared to 2015. New solar power, wind power and hydropower provided the largest boost.

Additionally, renewables investment remained larger than for all fossil fuels, however subsidies for green energy remain much lower than those for coal, oil and gas.

At the end of 2016, more than 24 per cent of global electricity was produced by renewables, dominated by hydropower and with wind contributing 4.0 per cent and solar at 1.5 per cent. Renewable energy contributed 10 per cent of all energy, overshadowed by the 80 per cent coming from fossil fuels such as oil and gas.

Experts warn that the switch to green energy needed to speed up to avoid the worst impacts of global warming, and also raised concerns over USA’s recent withdrawal from the Paris climate change agreement - saying that President Trump’s decision could leave the US behind in the fast-moving transition to a low-carbon economy.

Arthouros Zervos, chair of REN21, said: “A global energy transition [is] well under way, with record new additions of installed renewable energy capacity, rapidly falling costs and the decoupling of economic growth and energy-related carbon dioxide emissions for the third year running.

Christine Lins, executive secretary of REN21, added: “Trump’s withdrawal of the US from the Paris agreement is unfortunate. But the renewables train has already left the station and those who ignore renewables’ central role in climate mitigation risk being left behind.”

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