REN21 - Renewables 2020 Global Status Report

The REN21 Renewables 2020 Global Status Report, which was published on the 16th of June 2020, provides an overview of the latest developments on the renewable energy transition through the end of 2019.

The year 2019 was another record-breaking year for renewables, installed power capacity grew by 200 GW, which accounted for the largest increase ever. The share of renewables in the heating, cooling and transport sectors continued to increase; however, just like in 2018, these developments are still moderate due to the lack of sufficient policy support and rapid technological developments.

The shift toward renewables is accelerating: statistics show that the share of renewables is on the rise in all corners of the word. Forty-seven countries, including several emerging economies, had at least 1 GW of solar PV and wind power in operation. In addition, private individuals are stepping up their efforts to participate in the energy transition. Private sector investments in renewable power and fuels reached record levels in 2019 as did the number of signed power purchase agreements.

Despite the advances in the power sector, the uptake of renewables in the heating and cooling sector, which accounts for the 83% of energy consumption, remains quite low. The continued dependence on fossil fuels is strongly related to the lack of policy support in these sectors.

Global fossil fuel subsidies totalled USD 400 billion, which is more than double the amount that governments spent on renewable power in 2019. Public funding in coal plans continues to flow into developing countries, thereby hindering the uptake of renewable energy and standing in the way of a dramatic reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

In order to compete with rising global energy demand, the transition towards renewable energy fuels must be expedited. The REN21 report suggests three main actions that should be implemented in parallel in order to accelerate this process:  

  • Increase policies that actively support the uptake of renewables
  • Make energy efficiency mandatory to decrease energy demand
  • Accelerate the phase-out out of fossil fuels

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, carbon dioxide emissions are expected to decrease between 4% and 7%. This predicted decline alone, however, will not be enough to reach the global climate and energy goals. These challenges times have proven that systematic change is needed soon. The recovery phase after COVID-19 presents policy makers and governments with a unique opportunity to coordinate their actions and make the switch to a renewable energy based energy system.

The full report is available here.  

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