Renewables 2017 Global Status Report: another record breaking year

Renewables 2017 Global Status Report: another record breaking year

The 2017 Edition of the REN21 Renewables Global Status Report reveals a global energy transition well underway, with record new additions of installed renewable energy capacity, rapidly falling costs, and the decoupling of economic growth and energy-related CO2 emissions.

REN21’s Renewables 2017 Global Status Report presents developments and trends through the end of 2016, as well as observed trends from early 2017 where available.

First published in 2005, the annual Renewables Global Status Report is the most comprehensive and timely overview of the status, recent developments and trends in renewable energy markets, industries, investments, and policy developments worldwide. By design, it does not provide analysis or forecast. Data are provided by a network of 800 contributors, researchers, and authors from all over the world.

Additions in installed renewable power capacity set new records in 2016, with 161 GW installed, increasing total global capacity by almost 9% over 2015, to nearly 2,017 GW. Solar PV accounted for around 47% of the capacity added, followed by wind power at 34% and hydropower at 15.5%.

Le fonti dell’energia consumata nel mondo. (Fonte: Ren21, Renewables 2017 Global Status Report)

Source: Ren21, Renewables 2017 Global Status Report

Renewables are becoming the least cost option. Recent deals in Denmark, Egypt, India, Mexico, Peru and the United Arab Emirates saw renewable electricity being delivered at USD 0.05 per kilowatt-hour or less. This is well below equivalent costs for fossil fuel and nuclear generating capacity in each of these countries. Winners of two recent auctions for offshore wind in Germany have done so relying only on the wholesale price of power without the need for government support, demonstrating that renewables can be the least cost option.

The inherent need for “baseload” is a myth. Integrating large shares of variable renewable generation can be done without fossil fuel and nuclear “baseload” with sufficient flexibility in the power system – through grid interconnections, sector coupling and enabling technologies such as ICT, storage systems electric vehicles and heat pumps. This sort of flexibility not only balances variable generation, it also optimizes the system and reduces generation costs overall It comes as no surprise, therefore that the number of countries successfully managing peaks approaching or exceeding 100% electricity generation from renewable sources are on the rise. In 2016, Denmark and Germany, for example, successfully managed peaks of renewables electricity of 140% and 86.3%, respectively.

Global energy-related CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and industry remained stable for a third year in a row despite a 3% growth in the global economy and an increased demand for energy. This can be attributed primarily to the decline of coal, but also to the growth in renewable energy capacity and to improvements in energy efficiency.

La crescita del solare nel mondo tra 2006 e 2016. (Fonte: Ren21, Renewables 2017 Global Status Report)

Source: Ren21, Renewables 2017 Global Status Report

Positive trends

Innovations and breakthroughs in storage technology will increasingly provide additional flexibility to the power system. In 2016, approximately 0.8 GW of new advanced energy storage capacity became operational, bringing the year-end total to an estimated 6.4 GW.

Markets for mini-grids and stand-alone systems are evolving rapidly and Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) business models, supported by mobile technology, are exploding. In 2012, investments in PAYG solar companies amounted to only USD 3 million; by 2016 that figure had risen to USD 223 million (up from USD 158 million in 2015).

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.”

Il contributo dei diversi Paesi alla crescita del solare tra 2006 e 2016. (Fonte: Ren21, Renewables 2017 Global Status Report)

Source: Ren21, Renewables 2017 Global Status Report

Source: Sun & wind energy

Date: July 2017

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