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As you may have heard, the planet is warming up, and in response, people try to switch to clean energy to warm it less or at least slower. So what does it look like?
A report published this month explores this issue. The Global Renewable Energy Regulatory Report (GSR), published annually by the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21), analyzes the growth rates of various energy sources, investment flows and clean energy progress worldwide. About the goals of sustainable development.
It is a treasury of information. It is also very long. 250 pages. So many words!
To keep users updated while saving valuable time, I looked through the report and created 12 charts and graphs that tell the story of the cleanest energy in 2018.
First, we are still going in the wrong direction. Global carbon dioxide emissions are not falling fast enough. In fact, they don’t fall at all. In 2018, they increased by 1.7%.
In the wrong direction. Between 2016 and 2017, fossil fuel subsidies increased by 11%. and have reached $ 300 billion a year.
Third, the cleaning effort wears off. This week brings good news for the US – for the first time in April, the US produced more electricity from clean energy than from coal, Bloomberg said on Tuesday. But GSR’s report shows that total renewable energy investments (excluding hydropower) will be $ 288.9 billion in 2018, less than fossil fuel subsidies and 11 percent less than in 2017.
This is all bad news. The public seems surprised that while evil does eventually happen, it is speeding up toward good. It’s bad. Overall, we have failed in the opposite direction. Despite all the events described below, we are still fighting for emergency braking.
Good news for starters: Changes in the energy sector are becoming more and more effective. In four years, more renewable energy capacity has been installed worldwide than for new fossil fuels and nuclear energy. In 2018, 181 GW of renewable capacity was installed; Currently, it generates over a third of the installed capacity in the world. Here are the main sources of energy for your stay.
As can be seen from the table below, the addition of wind energy and bioenergy is quite stable. Hydropower will decrease slightly. The main reason for increasing renewable capacity is the proliferation of solar panels (PV).
55 percent (around 100 GW) of the new renewable energy capacity installed in 2018 is photovoltaic. Wind energy accounts for 28 percent and hydropower for 11 percent. The future of the world depends mainly on sunrise.
The graph below also shows the rapid growth of photovoltaics in the US, Japan (thanks to Fukushima and the subsequent shutdown of nuclear power plants) and, more recently, India.
When it comes to energy, China is usually the largest and most populous country. It is responsible for 32% of global investments in renewable energy in 2018. It is a leading and leading investor in hydropower, solar, photovoltaic and wind installations in the world.
(Some things worth noting in the graph below: the unusually high share of solar energy in Japan and the relatively large role of bioenergy in the EU and US.)
All growth and investment in renewable energy are starting to add up. Renewable energy accounts for more than a third of the installed capacity in the world and, as shown in the diagram below, produces more than 26% of the world’s electricity.
That said, nearly 16 percent of hydropower makes up more than half of total renewable energy. What people consider renewable energy, wind and sunlight, make up only 8 percent of the total. Electricity also has many ways to regenerate.
Key economic and political aspects of renewable energy: solar PV creates more jobs. It is responsible for most of the world’s renewable energy work, despite only having a small share of renewable energy production capacity. Solar-powered wind generates much less work. Photovoltaics is laborious.
There is no good news outside of electricity. Renewable energy sources account for 26 percent of the world’s electricity, and heating and cooling account for less than 10 percent (less than 2 percent renewable electricity) and 3.3 percent (renewable electricity). It’s only 0.3 percent.
Heating and cooling account for 51% of the world’s energy consumption, mainly natural gas and oil. Transport accounts for 32 percent of the world’s energy, mainly gasoline and diesel fuel.
169 countries have met their renewable energy targets at national or state / provincial level. “Only 47 countries have targets for renewable heat and cooling, and the number of countries that have a regulatory policy in this sector has dropped from 21 to 20,” the report reads. Less than a third of all countries worldwide have the required building codes, and “60% of the total energy consumption in buildings in 2018 was in jurisdictions with no energy efficiency policy.” About a quarter of industrial energy consumption is covered by industrial energy saving policies.
“A fuel economy policy for passenger cars will be implemented in 40 countries by the end of the year and will counterbalance the trend towards larger cars” is not good.
Coal prices are not helping either. “Coal prices are still widely used,” the report reads. “At the end of 2018, only 44 national governments, 21 states / provinces and seven cities had a carbon pricing policy covering only 13% of global CO2 emissions.”
This is the case in the United States and around the world: renewable energy starts producing electricity, but slows down significantly everywhere.
Transport is still dominated by fossil fuels and the transformation is underway. In 2018, “the number of electric cars worldwide has increased by 63% compared to 2017” and many cities are switching to electric buses.
Here too, China is ahead of the rest of the world despite the challenges facing the small Norwegian country whose aggressive policy on electric vehicles is reflected in global statistics.
There is a special report on the growing potential of clean energy in cities around the world. On average, cities – which account for 65 percent of the world’s energy demand and account for more than half of the world’s population – consume a higher percentage of renewable energy than countries. Already, at least 100 cities around the world use between 90 and 100 percent renewable energy. At least 230 people have chosen 100% renewable energy in at least one sector.
Every year, the G20 countries meet to end fossil fuel subsidies and commit to restoring them. Annually, fossil fuel subsidies increased by 11 percent, reaching $ 300 billion in 2017. “While at least 40 countries have reformed some level of fossil fuel subsidies since 2015,” the report reads, “fossil fuel subsidies remain unchanged. In 2017, at least 112 countries, of which at least 73 countries provided more than $ 100 million in subsidies.
It’s just direct sponsorship. As my colleague Umair Irfan reports, a new IMF document estimates total fossil fuel subsidies – directly related to taxes and remittances and indirectly to unnecessary environmental damage – will amount to $ 5.2 trillion in 2017.
Any climate model in which humanity is to meet its carbon emissions targets has a rapid decline in ‘energy intensity’, that is, the amount of energy used to generate a unit of GDP. In theory, if you can reduce energy intensity quickly enough, you can compensate for the increase in energy consumption (due to population and economic growth) and even reduce total energy consumption.
In theory. In fact, global energy consumption has fallen by only 2.2% in the last five years. It is not enough to cover the 1.2% increase in global energy demand.
Energy efficiency drops by about 0.4 percent per year. To meet the global target of decarbonising by mid-century, global energy intensity must decline by 4 to 10 percent per year. This means that the world needs to increase speed, efficiency and power about 10 times.
So what does it all add up to? One (admittedly imperfect) way of measuring progress in renewable energy is by measuring it in terms of Total Final Energy Consumption (TFEC), which sums up all the energy consumed worldwide.
As of 2017, fossil fuels still provide 80% of human energy, and probably for decades. Excluding traditional biomass, excluding all deforestation, diversification and food competition for land, around 13% of residual energy is climate sensitive (different people can rule out different sources).
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