Unprecedented Rise in Renewable Energy at Lower Cost
As the cost of clean technology continues to fall, the world added record levels of renewable energy capacity in 2016, at an investment level 23 per cent lower than the previous year, according to a new research published by UN Environment, the Frankfurt School— UNEP Collaborating Centre and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2017 finds that wind, solar, biomass and waste-toenergy, geothermal, small hydro, and marine sources added 138.5 GW to global power capacity in 2016, up almost 9 per cent from the 127.5 GW added the year before. The added generating capacity roughly equals that of the world’s 16 largest existing power-producing facilities combined.
Investment in renewables’ capacity was roughly double in fossil fuel generation; the corresponding new capacity from renewables was equivalent to 55 per cent of all new power, the highest till date. The proportion of electricity coming from renewables excluding large hydro rose from 10.3 per cent to 11.3 per cent. This prevented the emission of an estimated 1.7 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide. Renewable energy investment in developing countries fell 30 per cent to $117 billion, while in developed economies it dropped by 14 per cent to $125 billion. Investment in renewables did not drop across the board. Europe enjoyed a 3 per cent increase to $59.8 billion, led by the UK ($24 billion) and Germany ($13.2 billion). Offshore wind ($25.9 billion) dominated Europe’s investment, up 53 per cent thanks to mega-arrays. China also invested $4.1 billion in offshore wind, its highest figure to date. Another positive sign came in winning bids for solar and wind in auctions around the world, at tariffs that would have seemed inconceivably low a few years ago.