While there has been significant growth over the last five years in renewable energy, it needs to expand beyond the power sector to the heating, cooling, and transport sectors

REN21’s ‘Renewables 2020 Global Status Report‘ came out recently and Lynn Wagner of the International Institute of Sustainable Development’s SDG Knowledge Hub gives a short overview of the main findings.

 

Cost of Renewable Power is Falling, Share is Growing in Power Sector

REN21’s ‘Renewables 2020 Global Status Report‘ indicates that, while there has been significant growth over the last five years in renewable energy, it needs to expand beyond the power sector to the heating, cooling, and transport sectors. In its related annual analysis of renewables, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) reports that renewable power is increasingly cheaper than new electricity capacity based on fossil fuels.

The annual REN21 GSR report indicates that 2019 saw the largest ever increase in installed power capacity – more than 200 gigawatts – with installed renewable energy capacity by the end of 2019 being enough to provide an estimated 27.3% of global electricity generation.

In terms of renewable share of total final energy consumption, key findings from the report indicate that, in 2017:

  • Buildings accounted for 33% of final energy demand, with renewables supplying 13.6% of this demand;
  • Industry accounted for 35% of final energy demand, with renewables supplying 14.5% of this demand; and
  • Transport accounted for 32% of final energy demand, with renewables supplying 3.3% of this demand.

The GSR report recommends adopting an integrated approach that includes policies to increase the uptake of renewables, decrease energy use by making energy efficiency mandatory, and accelerate the phase out of fossil fuels.

The findings of IRENA’s Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2019 indicate that market forces should help to facilitate the first and third of these policy approaches. The IRENA report indicates new solar photovoltaic (PV) and onshore wind power costs less than keeping many existing coal plants in operation. The report suggests that “boosting investment in renewables can align short-term recovery measures with medium and long-term energy and climate sustainability goals.” It further proposes that solar PV and onshore wind be used for rapid roll-out, and offshore wind, hydropower, bioenergy and geothermal technologies be considered for medium-term investment options.

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