Recent reports bring positive news related to renewable energy investment and the feasibility of a 100% renewable energy future. The publications address Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) 7 (affordable and clean energy) and SDG 13 (climate action).
The UN Environment Programme (UN Environment, or UNEP), the Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre, and Bloomberg New Energy Finance released a report titled ‘Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2017,’ which finds that wind, solar, biomass and waste-to-energy, geothermal, small hydro and marine sources added 138.5 gigawatts to global power capacity in 2016, up 8% from the 127.5 gigawatts added in 2015. The report indicates that 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% lower than the previous year. According to UN Environment, the added generating capacity roughly equals that of the world’s 16 largest existing power producing facilities combined.
A REN21 report indicates that over 70% of experts interviewed expressed the view that a global transition to 100% renewable energy is both feasible and realistic.
In other renewable energy news, the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) published opinions about the feasibility of a 100% renewable energy future. The ‘Renewables Global Futures Report: Great debates towards 100 per cent renewable energy’ presents the complex and nuanced opinions of experts from all regions on the feasibility of the goal of reaching a 100% renewable energy future and the likelihood of doing so by mid-century. The report indicates that over 70% of the experts interviewed expressed the view that a global transition to 100% renewable energy is both feasible and realistic, with European and Australian experts most strongly supporting this view. After some regional highlights, the report includes chapters on: whether 100% renewables is a logical consequence of the Paris Agreement; the global energy demand development; renewable power generation; the future of heating; renewables for transport; interconnection of sectors; storage issues; technology versus costs; scaling-up investments and work force; what utilities will look like in the future; mega cites; and energy access enabled through renewables.
At a press conference at UN Headquarters to mark the launch of the report, Christine Lins, REN21 Executive Secretary, underlined that 2016 was the third year in a row when the global economy continued to grow, by 3%, but emissions related to the energy sector decreased, mainly due to renewable energy and efficiency investment in China and in the US. REN21 is a global renewable energy policy multi-stakeholder network hosted by UN Environment. [Renewables Global Futures Report: Great Debates Towards 100 Per Cent Renewable Energy] [UN Press Release]
Other news related to renewables came from Europe, with the European Environment Agency (EEA) reporting that wind, solar and other renewable energy sources are steadily increasing their share in energy consumption across the EU. According to the EEA, this trend is driving down GHG emissions from electricity generation, buildings’ heating and cooling, and transport.
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