REN21 finds 2016 as record-breaking year for renewables

Illustration (Photo: Ocean Energy Europe)

The 2017 Edition of the REN21 Renewables Global Status Report has revealed that installed global renewable power capacity has hit new record in 2016 with 161GW added for 23% less investment.

The additions in renewable power capacity in 2016 have increased the total global capacity by 9% when compared to 2015, to nearly 2,017 GW, according to the global renewable energy policy multi-stakeholder network REN21.

Aside from the increase in renewable energy installed capacity, this year’s report reveals a global energy transition is well underway due to rapidly falling costs, and the decoupling of economic growth and energy-related carbon dioxide emissions for the third year running.

However, despite these positive trends the pace of the transition is not on track to achieve the goals established in the Paris Agreement, according to REN21.

The report has found that although global investment in new renewable power and fuel capacity was roughly double that in fossil fuels, investments in new renewable energy installations were down 23% compared to 2015.

Among developing and emerging market countries, renewable energy investment fell 30%, to $116.6 billion, while that of developed countries fell 14% to $125 billion, according to the report.

When it comes to ocean energy industry development, the character of 2016 was similar to the previous year, with a growing number of companies around the world advancing their technologies and deploying new and improved devices, the report said.

However, commercial success for ocean energy technologies remained in check due to continued challenges such as financing obstacles in an industry characterized by relatively high risk and high upfront costs and the need for improved planning, consenting and licensing procedures.

Arthouros Zervos, Chair of REN21, said: “The world is adding more renewable power capacity each year than it adds in new capacity from all fossil fuels combined. One of the most important findings of this year’s GSR, is that holistic, systemic approaches are key and should become the rule rather than the exception.

“As the share of renewables grows we will need investment in infrastructure as well as a comprehensive set of tools: integrated and interconnected transmission and distribution networks, measures to balance supply and demand, sector coupling (for example the integration of power and transport networks); and deployment of a wide range of enabling technologies.”

The report has also revealed that fossil fuel subsidies continue to impede the progress of renewable energy.

Although more than 50 countries had by the end of 2016 committed to phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, subsidies for fossil fuels and nuclear power globally continue to dramatically exceed those for renewable technologies, according to REN21.

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