Plummeting Costs for Renewables Bankrolls Green Energy Revolution
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Unless you’ve avoided social media for the past few weeks, you probably know that the tipping point for a global shift towards renewable energy is here. Falling costs and new investments has marked an exponential growth in the global share of the green energy revolution. Projections about future solar and wind deployment look wildly optimistic. It is estimated that the cost of renewable generation is in line with the cost of fossil-fueled electricity in a large number of places.

According to REN21 Renewables Global Status Report, the new renewable energy capacity installed worldwide in 2016 was 161GW. It is a 10 percent rise on 2015. (REN21 is a network of public and private sector groups covering 155 countries and 96% of the world’s population.)

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Countries like India and China have picked the baton, and are driving a green energy revolution that has spread to every continent.

Towards a green energy revolution

The new renewable energy capacity cost $242 billion, a 23 percent plunge compared to 2015. Renewables investment remained larger than for all fossil fuels. Yet, subsidies for renewables are much lower than for coal, oil and gas.

Renewable energy capacity in 2016 rose 17% to 921GW, excluding hydropower. It rose 8.7% to 2,017GW when including hydropower. At the end of 2016, roughly 24% of global electricity was produced by renewables.

Sales of hybrid and electric vehicles in 2016 rose 42% than in 2015. Moreover, the storage capacity of lithium-ion battery systems more than doubled.

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Renewable energy industry looks nothing like it did a decade ago: expensive and sluggish.

Countries like India and China have picked the baton, and are driving a green energy revolution that has spread to every continent.

The heads of some of the largest oil companies in the world are calling the green energy revolution the 21st-century industrial revolution. Saudi Aramco, world’s largest oil and gas company, is investing $5 billion in renewable deals. Royal Dutch Shell is exploring acquisitions in the renewable energy sector.

We need big strides on climate change

Renewable energy industry looks nothing like it did a decade ago: expensive and sluggish. This doesn’t mean we can easily solve the problem of climate change.

The top ten hottest years on record have all been since 1998. Analysts have warned that the transition is not happening fast enough to contain the worst impacts of global warming. Ramping up renewable energy would only be a part of solving the global climate change problem.

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In some parts of the world, the existence is climate change is still widely contested.

Coal, oil and gas still account for more than 85% of global primary energy. Coal-fired plants are still being built in countries like India where people lack electricity. In some parts of the world, the existence is climate change is still widely contested.

The sharp decline in the cost of renewable energy has kindled a wave of demand. It’s the first time government, agencies and companies have devoted so much time and money to green energy. But, we’ll need to act fast if we also want to curb climate change.

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