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Policy must change to advance the impact of renewables

Clean Earth
Growth in renewable power has been impressive over the past five years, however, too little is happening in the heating, cooling and transport sectors.

This is according to REN21’s Renewables 2020 Global Status Report, which also states that overall, global energy consumption keeps increasing, “eating up the progress made in renewable generation.”

The report points out that the journey towards a climate crisis continues, unless the world makes an immediate switch to renewable energy – in all sectors.

To make the switch, policy change is needed. The report shows that today’s progress is largely the result of policies and regulations initiated years ago, which focus on the power sector. Major barriers seen in heating, cooling and transport have remained in place for almost a decade.

For progress to be made, policies must create the right market conditions in heating, cooling and transport. Plus, policymaking must be collaborative, with decisions spanning and connecting the different sectors.

The analysis provides a comprehensive overview of global developments in renewable energy markets, investments and policies in 2019.

This year’s report includes a feature chapter on citizen support for renewable power projects. Community action has played an important role in the push for renewables in 2019, as supporters called for change at both the local and global level.

Highlights from the report

  • There was only a moderate increase in the overall share of renewables in total final energy consumption (TFEC). As of 2018, modern renewable energy accounted for an estimated 11% of TFEC. This is only a slight increase from 9.6% in 2013.
  • In 2019, the private sector signed power purchase agreements for a record growth of over 43% from 2018 to 2019 in new renewable power capacity.
  • Despite significant progress in the power sector, the share of renewables in heating, cooling and transport continued to lag far behind due to insufficient policy support and slow developments in new technologies.
  • Although CO2 emissions remained stable in 2019, the world is not on track to limit global warming to below 1.5 °C as stipulated in the Paris Agreement.
  • Climate change policies that directly or indirectly stimulate interest in renewables increased in 2019, spreading to new regions and reaching new levels of ambition.
  • Among the general public, support for renewable energy continued to advance alongside rising awareness of the multiple benefits of renewables, including reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. By year’s end 1,480 jurisdictions – spanning 28 countries and covering 820 million citizens – had issued “climate emergency” declarations.

Download the full report here.

This article was originally posted on Power Engineering International and was republished with permission.