Renewable energy generating capacity is showing record growth, especially in developing countries, according to a new report by REN21, a provider of comprehensive information on renewable energy.
Renewables are now cost competitive with fossil fuels in many markets, highlighted the REN21 Renewables 2016 Global Status Report.
Government leadership continues to play a key role in driving the growth of renewables, particularly wind and solar, in the power sector. As of early 2016, 173 countries had renewable energy targets in place and 146 countries had support policies.
Cities, communities and companies are leading the rapidly expanding “100 per cent renewable” movement, playing a vital role in advancing the global energy transition; and additional growth factors include better access to financing, concerns about energy security and the environment and the growing demand for modern energy services in developing and emerging economies.
Commenting on the report Dr Stephan Singer, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) director for Global Energy Policy, said: “Globally, renewables continue to grow fast. We now have five times more solar and wind energy compared to 10 years ago. But still they constitute only 6 per cent of all electricity generated. Despite rapid growth of investments into those clean energy sources, fossil fuel and nuclear investments are still three to four times higher.”
While some European nations like Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Portugal and Spain still lead on per capita installation of wind, solar and biomass, the overall largest investments into renewables last year came from China, US, India and Japan. The European investments into renewables have been declining for the past five years, he said.
Leadership on zero-carbon development is moving to the South, he said.
“Like last year, overall investments and installations of renewables have been significantly larger in developing nations than in the OECD and Russia. More striking, poorer nations like Morocco, Uruguay, Honduras, Nicaragua, South Africa and Jordan for example, have spent around one per cent and more of their GDP for renewable energy expansion, much more than for instance China, US, Japan or Germany,” he added.
Tanzeed Alam, Climate & Energy Director, Emirates Wildlife Society-WWF said: “It is encouraging to see renewable energy reach new record-breaking levels around the world, something that is crucial to maintain if we are to address climate change in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement to stay below 1.50C of warming.
“While the UAE and the wider region has huge potential to use solar power, it is also not yet being fully capitalized. We would like to see more ambition on setting national targets as well as cohesive policy frameworks to scale up implementation on the ground. Doing so would not only reduce our carbon dioxide emissions, but also create thousands of jobs and help the economy diversify away from oil and gas.”
Raf Senga, WWF’s manager for energy policy for Asia-Pacific said: "Renewable energy is the only way the world can grow electricity generation capacity in line with the 1.50C warming limit agreed by governments last year. Asia, the fastest growing region in the world, has the potential to impact this target through its energy choices. By choosing to follow the global trend of scaling up renewables, Asia can ensure they will reduce the damaging impacts of climate change while increasing energy security for millions.”