Thursday, December 3, 2015

Renewables are Unstoppable: Prodigious Growth and Even Better Forecasts

Renewable energy has been steadily growing and future projections are nothing short of meteoric. While renewables are already doing well they can be expected to grow at a far faster pace going forward. A positive outcome at the ongoing COP21 climate negotiations in Paris will radically accelerate the deployment of renewables by increasing long-term policy vision and predictability.

The drive towards a low carbon economy is unstoppable and by 2050 renewable energy will be the world's leading source of energy. Already we are seeing more added renewable energy capacity each year than coal, natural gas, and oil combined. As we move away from fossil fuels, we will see radical increases in the installation of renewable capacity.

The growth of renewables has been prodigious. Wind has grown eight fold in the last ten years and solar has grown almost 50 fold during this period.

According to a report commissioned by France-based Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21), 2014 saw record installations in wind and solar PV. There are now a total of 164 countries that have renewable energy targets. Renewables accounted for over 59 percent of net additions to world’s power capacity

In 2014 about 135 GW of renewable energy power was added increasing the total installed capacity to 1,712 GW, up 8.5 percent from the year before. As of end-2014, renewables comprised an estimated 27.7 percent of the world’s power generating capacity.

In 2014, global new investment in renewable power and fuels increased 17 percent over 2013 more than double fossil fuel investment. This is the fifth year in a row that renewable energy investment is outpacing fossil fuels. Global new investment in renewable power and fuels increased to 301 billion over 2013. Going forward the opportunities for investors are huge.

"Renewables are poised to seize the crucial top spot in global power supply growth," IEA executive director, Fatih Birol said, "they are no longer a niche. Renewable energy has become a mainstream fuel, as of now." He said 60 percent of all new investment was going into renewables.

"The global breakthrough of renewable energy has happened much faster than anticipated," said Emily Rochon, global energy strategist at Greenpeace International.

The staggering growth we have seen in renewables in recent years will be eclipsed by what we can expect to see in the near future. The International Energy Agency {IEA} says that renewable energy will represent the largest single source of electricity growth over the next five years. Renewables are expected to account for almost two-thirds of net additions to global power capacity in the next five years.

"The electricity system is shifting to clean." Michael Liebreich, founder of BNEF, said in his keynote address. "Despite the change in oil and gas prices there is going to be a substantial buildout of renewable energy that is likely to be an order of magnitude larger than the buildout of coal and gas."

In 2014 the global renewables trade was valued at 790 billion, by 2022, clean energy is expected to be worth $1,8 trillion.   

The growth of renewables is a "clear sign that an energy transition is underway", the IEA said. As explained in Bloomberg, "the question is no longer if the world will transition to cleaner energy, but how long it will take."

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