Record Renewable Energy Adoption in 2019 Still Falls Short of Climate Targets
Global clean energy investment grew 1% last year, to US$282.2 billion, and countries installed a record 184 gigawatts of new renewables capacity. But the momentum is still far short of what’s needed this decade to drive the transition off carbon, according to the latest Global Trends In Renewable Energy Investment report, published as a collaboration between BloombergNEF, the Frankfurt School, and the United Nations Environment Program.
“As COVID-19 hits the fossil fuel industry, the GTR 2020 shows that renewable energy is more cost-effective than ever—providing an opportunity to prioritize clean energy in economic recovery packages and bring the world closer to meeting the Paris Agreement goals,” the authors state. But so far, “governments and companies around the world have committed to adding some 826 gigawatts of new non-hydro renewable power capacity in the decade to 2030, at a likely cost of around $1 trillion. Those commitments fall far short of what would be needed to limit world temperature increases to less than 2.0°C. They also look modest compared to the $2.7 trillion invested during the 2010-2019 decade.”
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Bloomberg Green recalls a 2018 United Nations report that called on governments to invest $2.4 trillion per year in clean energy through 2035 and cut coal use close to zero by 2050 to avert the worst effects of climate change.
Now, “clean energy finds itself at a crossroads in 2020,” said BNEF CEO Jon Moore. “The last decade produced huge progress, but official targets for 2030 are far short of what is required to address climate change.”
Yet “if governments take advantage of the ever-falling price tag of renewables to put clean energy at the heart of the COVID-19 economic recovery, they can take a big step toward a healthy natural world,” added UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen.
While the total investment last year fell well short of the record of $315 billion set in 2017, “the assessment found that a higher amount of generation capacity was added in 2019, while investment remained effectively flat compared to 2018,” RenewEconomy reports, in a story republished by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. With system costs falling fast, “more renewables can now be installed for the same level of investment,” all of which points to “new opportunities that could be expanded in a post-COVID-19 economic recovery.”
Reuters notes that the 184-GW total for new capacity last year amounted to a 12% increase from 2018. “More investment went into renewables last year than fossil fuel and nuclear technologies,” the news agency writes, with $47 billion going to new gas-fired generation, $37 billion to coal, and $15 billion to nuclear. RenewEconomy says wind and solar received almost equal investment, at $138.2 and $131.1 billion respectively, while biomass and waste-to-energy projects nabbed $9.7 billion.