More renewable power capacity was installed than fossil fuel and nuclear power combined – 100 gigawatts (GW) of solar PV alone was added in 2018 according to REN21’s Renewables 2019 Global Status Report (GSR).
“Forty countries have undertaken some level of fossil fuel subsidy reform since 2015, but these subsidies continued to exist in 112 countries in 2017, with at least 73 countries providing subsidies of over $100 million each. Estimated total global subsidies for fossil fuel consumption were $300 billion in 2017, an 11 percent increase from 2016.
Solar PV and wind are now mainstream options in the power sector. Over 90 countries had more than 1 GW of renewable power capacity installed, and 30 countries had more than 10 GW.
At least nine countries generated more than 20 percent of their electricity with solar PV and wind. These countries are Denmark, Uruguay, Ireland, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Greece, UK, Honduras.
More than 100 cities — Nairobi/Kenya and Dar es Salaam/Tanzania to Auckland/NZ, Stockholm/Sweden and Seattle/USA — use at least 70 percent renewable electricity, and at least 50 cities put in place renewable energy targets covering power, heating and cooling, and transport.
Renewables supply more than 26 percent of global electricity. Renewables, however, provide 10 percent of the energy used for heating and cooling and just over 3 percent for transport. This imbalance between energy sectors is in large part due to insufficient or unstable policy support.
Sustainable biofuels, EVs and fuel economy policies are reducing overall fossil fuel dependency in the transport sector.
Policies, such as Brazil’s 27 percent blending mandate for ethanol and California’s (USA) Low Carbon Fuel Standard Program, demonstrate renewables’ contribution to the transport sector.
Heating and cooling policies include building energy codes, renewable heat incentives and mandates, and indirect approaches like carbon pricing.
Carbon pricing remains under-utilised. By the end of 2018, only 44 national governments, 21 states/provinces and 7 cities had implemented carbon pricing policies, covering 13 percent of global CO2 emissions.
“With the countries needing to come back with more ambitious climate targets in 2020, this report shows there are an array of opportunities to scale up action and improve people’s lives by extending the benefits of the energy transition throughout the economy,” says REN21 Chair, Arthouros Zervos.