If the Trump administration’s anti-climate shenanigans have you down, maybe it’s time to take a break for some good news: the incredible progress on renewable energy in the US and world-wide. Clean energy momentum in US states and cities, as well as businesses support, is building rapidly. This blogpost is about the latest global developments—focusing on China and India, two large and growing economies that many experts think will play a decisive role in the future of global carbon emissions.
The global big picture on renewable energy
There’s so much amazing news on renewable energy globally it’s hard to know where to start. Here are a few highlights from the 2016 data:
- Steep cost declines in the cost of renewable energy continued, as documented by a UNEP-BNEF report. The average capital costs of new solar PV projects in 2016 were 13 percent lower than in 2015, onshore wind costs saw a drop of 11.5 percent and the drop for offshore wind was 10 percent.
- Solar costs hit record lows, continuing a year-on-year downward trend. In August 2016, Chile set a record at 2.91 cents/kilowatt hour (kWh), which was quickly beaten by a 42 cents/kWh solar power tariff bid in the UAE. Morocco set an onshore wind record of 3 cents/kWh for bids for large scale wind projects.
- For the second year in a row, a majority of the new electricity generation capacity installed globally was (non-hydro) renewable energy, according to the UNEP-BNEF report. At 138.5 gigawatts (GW), the total 2016 non-hydro RE capacity share amounted to just over 55 percent of all new installed capacity. Solar installations led, accounting for 75 GW. Renewable energy, excluding large hydro, provided 11.3 percent of the world’s electricity in 2016.
- 9.8 million people were employed in renewable energy worldwide, according to IRENA’s 2017 report on Renewable Energy and Jobs, up 1.1% from 2015. Solar PV with 3.1 million jobs (up 12% from 2015) and wind with 1.2 million (up 7% from 2015) led the jobs numbers.
China and India are leading players in this global clean energy revolution—a fact that was underscored in a recent report that ranked them at the top of Ernst and Young’s renewable energy country attractiveness index, outperforming the US.
China leads the charge on renewable energy
While there are impressive gains happening everywhere in the world, China is a dominating force on the renewable energy front. Moreover, the country has made important strides in beginning a historic shift away from coal. There’s obviously a long way to go to make the deep cuts in CO2emissions in line with the long term goals of the Paris Agreement but this is a promising start.
Here are some recent facts:
- In January, China announced a plan to invest $360 billion in renewable energy through 2020, with a goal of creating 13 million jobs.
- The 13thFive Year Plan, covering 2016–2020, also sets ambitious targets for non-fossil capacity: By 2020, the country expects to install 340 GW of hydropower, 200 GW of wind, 120 GW of solar power, as well as 58 GW of nuclear capacity and 15 GW of biomass.
- China has recently cancelled over a hundred proposed coal-fired power plants, totaling 120 GW.
- China has also allocated $14.5 billion to help transition displaced workers to new jobs, although its too early to tell how successful those efforts have been to date.
- Data show that China’s coal consumption has likely peaked, contributing to 4 years of level or slightly falling energy-related CO2 emissions.
- A recent analysis from Climate Action Tracker shows that with the actions it has already taken, and has committed to taking in the near future, China is on track to meet or even exceed its Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement.
India’s RE ambitions matched by real action on the ground
Meanwhile, in India, a recent study points out that a historic transformation of the power sector is already underway. While coal still dominates India’s power supply and much more will be needed to drive down carbon emissions across the economy, here are some reasons for optimism:
- India’s 2016 Draft Energy Plan includes a goal of 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2021-22, up from about 43 GW currently.
- India’s Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission aims to install 100 GW of solar capacity by 2022. Equally important, through a combination of policies, this initiative’s goal is also to aggressively bring down the costs of solar power to achieve grid parity in that same timeframe. If that goal is met, it has huge implications for the affordability and ramp up rate of solar power not just in India but world-wide.
- India’s solar market is heating up (some would even say over heating). Solar capacity installations are expected to reach nearly 10 GW this year. Solar power tariffs in India have reached record lows recently, dropping 25 percent in just three months to reach 1¢/kWh to 5.6¢/kWh in recent auctions. While these rock-bottom prices may not be sustainable in the near term (or desirable), they are a clear indication of which way the market is headed.
- The Draft Energy Plan also concluded that no new coal-fired power plants would be needed through 2027, beyond the 50 GW currently under construction. In fact, just last month India cancelled nearly 14 GW of proposed coal-fired power plants, and found that 8.6 GW of existing coal-fired power plants may no longer be economically viable.
Source : http://blog.ucsusa.org/rachel-cleetus/renewable-energy-china-india