The REN21 Renewables 2016 Global Status Report (GSR)

The REN21 Renewables 2016 Global Status Report, which provides the most up-to-date information on the renewable energy transition, was recently published on 7th June 2017!

As described in the report, 2016 was a transformational year in terms of increasing the uptake of renewable energy technologies across the markets of developed and emerging countries. The prices of fossil fuels and renewable energy technologies have continued to decrease. Furthermore, the worldwide use of coal has continued to decline and at the same time energy efficiency measures have improved, which have contributed to the increasing uptake of renewable energy. As a result, the sector was able to create more job opportunities, 1.1% increase over the previous year. The employment in the sector has shifted towards Asia; China has especially created a lot of jobs in the power and heating sector.

The renewable energy development has remained a priority at all levels of governmental policy making. In November 2016, the Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) entered into force during the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22), strengthening the commitment to more innovative and sustainable pathways to meet global energy needs. Apart from energy security aspects, the reduction of air pollution and the improvement of health conditions of the population are also important drivers of this paradigm shift.

Some highlights of the report:

  • The newly installed renewable power capacity achieved new heights, with 161 GW in 2016. The world now contributes more renewable power capacity, than it adds in net new capacity from all fossil fuels.
  • The technology and investment costs are rapidly decreasing: record-braking tenders took place in the wind sector (in Argentina, Chile, India, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates) and in the solar power sector, especially in countries like Chile, India, Mexico and Morocco. Europe, especially Denmark and the Netherlands, has also experienced some record lows in offshore wind power costs.
  • The countries have to ensure maximum flexibility in their power system in order to integrate the large shares of variable renewable generation.
    Although the paradigm shift is already taking place, there are more than a billion people in the world, who do not have access to electricity or clean cooking opportunities. Innovative financing solutions, like micro-credits, and new business models (ex. pay-as-you-go) can help make access to energy more affordable.
  • The heating and cooling sector has also gone through transformative changes. The food and beverage industry has continued to increase the uptake of solar heat. Several Member States of the European Union have expanded the use of geothermal district heating and have also shown interest in converting renewable solar energy into heat.
  • The importance of storage has increased, because of its potential to provide flexibility in the power system. In the previous year, 6.4 GW non-pumped electricity storage (battery storage, CSP thermal storage) become operational, which complements the 150 GW pumped storage worldwide.

The transition from fossil fuels to renewables is happening, but not as fast as it was expected beforehand. The amount of global investment in renewable energy installations were down 23% in 2016, compared to 2015. The slowdown of investment is notable on the markets of emerging and developed countries, as well.

The full report can be found here:

The highlights of the REN21 report can be found under the following link: