The positive effect of solar energy as a sustainable energy source offsets the negative impact of the production of solar panels. This applies to energy consumption as well as greenhouse gas emissions during the production process, according to a comprehensive study by Atse Louwen and Wilfried van Sark from Utrecht University and colleagues from University of Groningen and Eindhoven University of Technology, the Netherlands. Their research results were published 6 December in the leading journal Nature Communications.
A new energy storage study, “State of Charge” released by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER), recommends a suite of new policy and program actions to support the deployment of hundreds of megawatts of advanced energy storage in the state over the next decade. That goal is supported by a clean energy bill, recently signed into law by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, that authorizes DOER to set energy storage procurement targets that utilities must meet by 2020. The agency is directed to decide by the end of this year whether to do so.
SolarPower Europe today released its flagship market report the “Global Market Outlook for Solar Power 2016-2020” showing that a total of 229 GW of solar power was installed in the world end of 2015, an over 45-fold market increase in only 10 years. After the 50 GW annual level of newly added solar power capacity was reached in 2015, the global solar market is well on its way to crack the 60 GW mark in 2016 – the most likely scenario forecasts around 62 GW of newly commissioned solar power this year.
The average costs for electricity generated by solar and wind technologies could decrease by between 26 and 59 per cent by 2025, according to a report released today by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The report, “The Power to Change: Solar and Wind Cost Reduction Potential to 2025“, finds that with the right regulatory and policy frameworks in place, solar and wind technologies can continue to realise cost reductions to 2025 and beyond.
REN21 announced last week the release of “The Renewables 2016 Global Status Report” which shows that renewables are now firmly established as competitive, mainstream sources of energy in many countries around the world.
2015 was a record year for renewable energy installations
Renewable power generating capacity saw its largest increase ever, with an estimated 147 gigawatts (GW) added. Modern renewable heat capacity also continued to rise, and renewables use expanded in the transport sector. These results were driven by several factors:
- Renewables are now cost competitive with fossil fuels in many markets.
- Government leadership continues to play a key role in driving the growth of renewables, particularly wind and solar, in the power sector.
- As of early 2016, 173 countries had renewable energy targets in place and 146 countries had support policies.
- Cities, communities and companies are leading the rapidly expanding “100% renewable” movement, playing a vital role in advancing the global energy transitio.
- Better access to financing, concerns about energy security and the environment and the growing demand for modern energy services in developing and emerging economies.
Christine Lins, Executive Secretary of REN21, said,
“What is truly remarkable about these results is that they were achieved at a time when fossil fuel prices were at historic lows, and renewables remained at a significant disadvantage in terms of government subsidies. For every dollar spent boosting renewables, nearly four dollars were spent to maintain our dependence on fossil fuels.”
Increase in investments and job growth in renewable energies
2015 was a record year not only for new installations, but also for investment – reaching USD 286 billion worldwide in renewable power and fuels; if investment in large hydropower (>50 MW) and in heating and cooling is taken into account, the total is far higher. With China accounting for more than one third of the global total, developing countries surpassed developed countries in total renewable energy investments for the first time.
With increased investment came an increase in technological advances, cost reductions and jobs.
There are now 8.1 million people working in the renewable energy sector – representing steady growth in stark contrast with depressed labour markets in the broader energy sector.
Solar PV added a record 50 GW in 2015
The solar PV market was up 25% over 2014 to a record 50 GW, lifting the global total to 227 GW. The annual market in 2015 was nearly 10 times the world’s cumulative solar PV capacity of a decade earlier. China, Japan and the United States again accounted for the majority of capacity added, but emerging markets on all continents contributed significantly to global growth, driven largely by the increasing cost-competitiveness of solar PV.
While trends are generally positive, the report highlights several challenges that remain to be addressed if governments are to fulfill their commitments to achieve a global transition away from fossil fuels.
These include: achieving effective integration of high shares of renewables into the grid; addressing policy and political instability, regulatory barriers, and fiscal constraints. Further, there is far less policy focus on transport and, particularly, heating and cooling, so these sectors are progressing much more slowly.
See all key findings below. For more information visit REN21 website.
Source: Press Release by REN21. Image Credit: Team Massachusetts 4D Home via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).