For the fourth year in a row, more renewable power capacity was installed than fossil fuel and nuclear power combined.
Despite progress made, the world is not on track to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement or of SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy).
27 June 2019: Although renewable energy use is on the rise, the lack of “ambitious and sustained policies” is hindering the sector’s potential contribution to reducing emissions and achieving climate and development goals, according to a report published by REN21, a global policy network of experts that provides up-to-date information to shape the energy debate.
The ‘Renewables 2019 Global Status Report’ (GSR) focuses on 2018 market, investment and policy developments and trends. First published in 2005, the GSR provides a comprehensive overview of the renewable energy sector.
The report confirms that, for the fourth year in a row, more renewable power capacity was installed than fossil fuel and nuclear power combined. However, it warns, despite progress made, the world is not on track to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement on climate change and SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy). The report explains that the 2018 review of SDG 7 found that the renewables, energy efficiency and energy access objectives for 2030 will not be achieved without significantly scaling up action. In addition, the absence of policies that advance decarbonization across the heating, cooling and transport sectors means that countries are not fully benefiting from the energy transition.
While since 2015, 40 countries have undertaken some type of fossil fuel subsidy reform, in 2017, subsidies still existed in 112 countries.
REN21 Executive Secretary Rana Adib said this could change if countries cut their fossil fuel subsidies. Since 2015, 40 countries have undertaken some type of fossil fuel subsidy reform. However, in 2017, subsidies still existed in 112 countries, with 73 countries providing subsidies of over USD 100 million each, and total fossil fuel subsidies estimated at USD 300 billion.
The report argues that ambitious policies and regulatory frameworks are necessary to create conditions that enable renewable energy use to increase and replace more expensive carbon-emitting fuels. It discusses opportunities to scale up action and improve people’s lives by expanding the energy transition benefits throughout the economy.
The report finds that solar photovoltaics (PV) and wind are now mainstream options in the power sector, with at least nine countries (Denmark, Uruguay, Ireland, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Greece, the UK and Honduras) generating more than 20% of their electricity from these sources.
The authors note that cities are strong drivers in renewable energy deployment and adopting ambitious targets for renewables that, in some cases, have exceeded national targets. More than 100 cities, according to the report, use at least 70% renewable electricity, and at least 50 cities have renewable energy targets for power, heating and cooling, and transport.
While renewables supply more than 26% of global electricity, according to the report, they provide only 10% of the energy used for heating and cooling and just over 3% for transport as a result of insufficient policy support. The number of countries with renewables policies in heating has actually declined, it warns.
The report also details initiatives that are currently being implemented. For example, sustainable biofuels, electric vehicles and fuel economy policies are reducing dependency on fossil fuel in the transport sector. Heating and cooling policies include building energy codes, renewable heat incentives and mandates, and indirect approaches such as carbon pricing, which is still not used much. By the end of 2018, only 44 national governments, 21 states/provinces and seven cities had implemented carbon pricing policies. [Publication: Renewables 2019 Global Status Report] [UNEP Press Release] [REN21 GSR 2019 Landing Page] [UNEP GSR 2019 Landing Page] [CTCN Press Release]