Renewables Delivered Nearly 75% of New Electricity Last Year, But Investment Must Double by 2030
Solar, wind, and other forms of renewable power supplied nearly three-quarters of the new electricity generating capacity installed in 2019, but annual investments will still have to double by 2030 to keep pace with the climate emergency, according to a new report issued this week by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
“While the trajectory is positive, more is required to put global energy on a path with sustainable development and climate mitigation,” said IRENA Director General Francesco La Camera. Moreover, “at this challenging time, we are reminded of the importance of building resilience into our economies.”
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Renewables have received about US$3 trillion in investment over the last decade and now supply more than one-third of the world’s electricity, The Guardian reports, citing the IRENA release. “Fossil fuel power plants are in decline in Europe and the U.S., with more decommissioned than built in 2019.”
However, “the number of coal and gas plants grew in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. In the Middle East, which owns half the world’s oil reserves, just 26% of new electricity generation capacity built in 2019 was renewable.”
The IRENA report placed the growth of new renewable energy capacity at 179 gigawatts last year, down slightly from 176 GW in 2018. Solar accounted for 55% of the new capacity, most of it in China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Vietnam, The Guardian says. Wind delivered 34%, with nearly half of it in China and major gains in the United States.
“Other green technologies—hydropower, bioenergy, geothermal, and marine energy—all grew modestly year-on-year,” The Guardian writes. While small compared with solar and wind power, geothermal energy—tapping the heat of deep rocks—is growing, with Turkey, Indonesia, and Kenya leading the way.”
With the world in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic, La Camera said the next essential step is for government relief packages to focus on green initiatives, not fossil fuels. “In responding to today’s crisis, governments may be tempted to focus on short-term solutions,” he said. “Yet distinctions between short-, medium-, and long-term challenges may be deceptive. The pandemic shows that delayed action brings significant economic consequences.”