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Renewables outpace fossil fuels for 5th year in run - News

18 June 2015, 1:00 BST 3 min read

LONDON - The international renewable energy network REN21 published the annual Global Status Report today, noting that for the 5th year running renewables outpaced fossil fuels in net investment terms.

The report, which tracks renewable energy growth and analyzes policy trends, states 135 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy was added in 2014, accounting for over 60% of net additions to the world’s power capacity.

The continuing global success of clean energy means that landmark progress has been made in both private and governmental sectors.

“The data continues to confirm that the clean revolution, the shift toward a prosperous low carbon economy, is under way,” comments Mark Kenber, CEO, The Climate Group. “Renewable energy is proven to be reliable, cheap and the only sustainable option for both the economy and the environment. Many businesses already recognise this: our RE100 program, supporting companies with 100% renewable power targets, clearly shows that green business is good business through inexpensive, reliable clean energy.

“However, there is still much more to do. Policymakers have the opportunity of attracting clean investment, which the report shows increasing especially in developing countries, through their national and international pledges. This is why the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) countries are presenting ahead of COP21 in Paris should be seen as strategic investment plans for low carbon growth.”

The clean revolution has been mainly led by solar PV capacity, which soared by an impressive rate of 48-fold from 2004 – when it accounted for 3.7 GW – to 177 GW last year. Wind energy capacity also grew nearly 8-fold over the last 10 years, from 48 GW in 2004 to 370 GW in 2014.

These figures also reflect in businesses' choices, like the IKEA group who has demonstrated that going for renewables makes perfect business sense, committing to invest €500 million in wind energy and €100 million in solar in the next five years. This commitment adds to the €1.5 billion that the group has invested since 2009, which has set the company on track to meet its target of going 100% renewable by 2020Last September IKEA became one of the first companies that signed up to RE100, The Climate Group and CDP-run campaign that is pushing major companies to use 100% renewable energy. The announcement came during the Opening Day of Climate Week NYC, together with other companies like Swiss RE and Nestle.

Considering the global energy mix, renewables account for an estimated 27.7% of power generating capacity – or 22.8% of global energy demand, which is up from 19% in 2012. 

Renewable energy targets were created in 20 more countries, raising the total to 164 national renewable energy targets worldwide, says the report. In 2014 135GW of renewable energy was added the report claims, accounting for over 60% of net additions to the world’s power capacity.

Image: Estimated Renewable energy share of Global Electricity Production

 

DECOUPLING

2014 was a landmark year that saw the “decoupling” of economic growth and CO2 emissions for the first time. This means that even though there was an average growth of Gross Domestic Product and energy consumption, CO2 emissions stayed at the same rate.

In the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) report ‘Energy and Climate Change’ published June 15, the IEA also highlights the importance of this ‘decoupling’. Furthermore the IEA and REN21 both explain that further action is needed to keep warming below 2°C

In an interview by Carbon Brief, Dr Fatih Birol, Chief Economist, IEA, says ambitious investment commitments being published by countries in the run up to COP21 – called INDCs – are the critical first step toward decoupling, stating: I would like to see a peaceful divorce of economic growth and emissions.” 

 

SUBSIDY POLICY

Importantly, REN21’s Global Status report notes that for the 5th year running, renewables outpaced fossil fuels in net investment terms.

However, authors point out the renewable energy sector’s growth could be even greater if subsidies for fossil fuels and nuclear are phased out.

Those sectors receive over US$550 billion dollars in annual subsidies, the removal of which would create “a level playing field” which “would strengthen the developments and use of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies”, says Christine Lins, Executive Secretary, REN21.

By Frankie Mayo