The world is now adding more green energy capacity each year than it adds in new capacity from all fossil fuels combined, a United Nations-backed report revealed. A record 161 GW of renewable capacity was added last year for 23 per cent less investment than in 2015.
In 2016 renewable power instalments increased by nine per cent over 2015 to nearly 2,017 gigawatts. Solar photovoltaic accounted for around 47 per cent of the total additions, followed by wind power at 34 per cent and hydropower at 15.5 per cent, according to the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) report.
As the shift to clean power continues, renewables are becoming the least costly option as has been seen recently in Denmark, Egypt, India, Mexico, Peru and the United Arab Emirates, where energy has been delivered well below the equivalent costs for fossil fuel and nuclear energy in each of these countries.
“The world is adding more renewable power capacity each year than it adds in new capacity from all fossil fuels combined,” Arthouros Zervos, chair of REN21, said in a statement.
At the same time the UN environment agency warned that the energy transition is not happening fast enough to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
For instance, nuclear and fossil fuel subsidies continue to dramatically exceed those for renewable technologies, impeding progress to meet keep global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius. In 2014 the ratio of fossil fuel subsidies to renewable energy subsidies was 4:1, meaning that for every dollar spent on renewables, governments were still spending four dollars on perpetuating the dependence on fossil fuels.
“The world is in a race against time,” said Christine Lins, executive secretary of REN21. “The single most important thing we could do to reduce CO2 emissions quickly and cost-effectively is phase-out coal and speed up investments in energy efficiency and renewables.”
Calling the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement “unfortunate”, Lins insisted that “the renewables train has already left the station and those who ignore renewables’ central role in climate mitigation risk being left behind.”