Findings from the latest REN21 annual Global Status Report (GSR 2019) indicate renewable power is here to stay.
Solar photovoltaics (PV) and wind are now mainstream options in the power sector, with an increasing number of countries generating more than 20% of their electricity with solar PV and wind. This is good news, but current trends indicate that bolder policy decisions are needed across all sectors of energy end-use to make our energy systems sustainable.
The lack of ambitious and sustained policies to drive decarbonisation in the heating, cooling and transport sectors is standing in the way of reaching the United Nations’ climate and development goals. It also means countries are not maximising the benefits of the transition – including cleaner air and energy security – for their populations.
The report points out that renewables (including biofuels and biomass) supply more than 26% of global electricity, but only 10% of the energy used for heating and cooling, and just over 3% for transport. .
These sectors remain heavily reliant on fossil fuels, which are highly subsidised in many countries. The research found that subsidies continued to exist in 112 countries in 2017, with at least 73 countries providing subsidies of over $100 million each.
“A key breakthrough could occur if countries cut their fossil fuel subsidies which are propping up dirty energy,” commented Rana Adib, executive secretary at REN21.
The message is clear. Ambitious policy and regulatory frameworks are critical to creating favourable and competitive market conditions, allowing renewable energy to grow and displace more expensive and carbon-emitting fuels.
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