In mixed news last week one report observed that investments in wind, solar and other clean energy technologies grew last week even as another report observed that CO2 emissions rose for the first time since 2014. The reports were issued by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) and the International Energy Agency (IEA).
In BNEF’s'State of Clean Energy Investment' the organization found that investment in renewable energy and energy-smart technologies grew to $333.5 billion, up 3 percent from 2016, resulting in 160 gigawatts (GWs) of new renewable energy installed worldwide—a record. The majority, 98 GWs was solar power. Wind power made up another 56 GWs of new power.
While it’s less than the $360.3 invested in renewable energy in 2015, the money is helping develop more clean energy than ever before, since costs for utility-scale wind and solar continue to fall, with photovoltaic (PV) farm costs falling 25 percent. Global investments in solar grew 18 percent to $160.8 billion in 2017. The slight majority of that, or $86.5 billion, was spent in China—58 percent more than in 2016. BNEF estimated that 53 gigawatts of solar was installed in China in 2017, compared to 30 GWs in 2016. Beyond China significant investments in clean energy were made in the Australia, Mexico and the US.
“The 2017 total is all the more remarkable when you consider that capital costs for the leading technology—solar—continue to fall sharply. Typical utility-scale PV systems were about 25% cheaper per megawatt last year than they were two years earlier,” said Jon Moore, chief executive of BNEF.
While that was good news, the IEA’s 'Global Energy and CO2 Status Report' showed that CO2 emissions increased 1.4 percent in 2017 as global energy demand grew 2.1 percent. The majority of that, 40 percent, came from energy demand growth in China and India. The majority of the energy growth increase 72 percent came from fossil fuels. While carbon emissions grew overall carbon emissions declined in the US, the UK, Mexico and Japan.
“The robust global economy pushed up energy demand last year, which was mostly met by fossil fuels, while renewables made impressive strides,” said Dr Fatih Birol, IEA’s executive director. “The significant growth in global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2017 tells us that current efforts to combat climate change are far from sufficient. For example, there has been a dramatic slowdown in the rate of improvement in global energy efficiency as policy makers have put less focus in this area.
The IEA report observed that renewable energy sources saw highest growth rate of energy sources rising 6.3 percent, driven by expansion of wind, solar and hydropower. Electric generation increased 3.1 percent worldwide driven by China and India, which together accounted for 70 percent of the world’s increased electric generation.Tweet