Renewable growth hit record 161GW in 2016

Record levels of renewable power were installed in 2016, totalling 161GW of new global capacity. That’s according to a report from REN21, which suggests this was achieved despite 23% less […]

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By Jonny Bairstow

Record levels of renewable power were installed in 2016, totalling 161GW of new global capacity.

That’s according to a report from REN21, which suggests this was achieved despite 23% less investment than the year before, at $241.6 billion (£189.8bn)

The new installations mark a 9% increase in total clean power from 2015, bringing worldwide capacity to nearly 2,017GW.

Solar energy accounted for around 47% of this growth, followed by wind (34%) and hydropower (15.5%).

The report also suggests recent deals in Denmark, Egypt, India, Mexico, Peru and the United Arab Emirates saw renewable electricity being delivered at or below $0.05/kWh (£0.04), well below equivalent costs for fossil fuels and nuclear.

Global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions remained stable for a third year, despite 3% growth in the global economy and an increased demand for electricity.

REN21 says this is primarily due to the decline of coal but also thanks to growing clean capacity and improvements in energy efficiency.

However, the group also believes the energy transition is not happening fast enough to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.

It says although global green investments roughly doubled those of fossil fuels, they were still down 23% compared to 2015.

In developing countries renewable energy investment fell an average of 30% to $116.6 billion ((£91.6bn), while more developed countries saw this figure fall 14% to $125 billion (£98.2bn).

Christine Lins, Executive Secretary of REN21, said: “The world is in a race against time. The single most important thing we could do to reduce carbon dioxide emissions quickly and cost-effectively, is phase-out coal and speed up investments in energy efficiency and renewables.”

The UK’s renewable energy output hit a record high of 19.3GW earlier this week.