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Taking renewable energy to the next level (2018 update)

Geoff Riley

29th December 2018

We are likely to look back on 2018 as a year when many countries and regions of the world made further substantial progress in increasing renewable energy capacity and benefitting from economies of scale which is lowering the unit cost of each unit of renewable energy supplied. Renewable power consumption grew by 17% in 2017, providing 8% of the world’s electricity.

Although the Trump Whitehouse continues to prop up the coal industry in swing states, globally, the forces driving us to cleaner energy sources are gathering momentum and much of the innovation and investment can be found in emerging/developing countries.

According to the International Energy Agency, “The share of renewables in meeting global energy demand is expected to grow by one-fifth in the next five years to reach 12.4% in 2023.” Brazil has the greenest renewable energy mix, and China leads absolute growth of capacity and output from renewable sources.

Of the world’s largest energy consumers, Brazil employs the highest share of renewables by far – almost 45% of total final energy consumption forecast in 2023.

Electricity contributes two-thirds of renewables growth but electricity accounts for less than 20% of total final energy consumption globally.

That said, the IEA reports that, although renewables grew three times faster than total energy demand in 2017, this was not enough to stop global CO2 emissions from rising. Their latest analysis points to bioenergy as being crucial in driving renewable energy to new levels. Modern bioenergy now accounts for half of all renewable energy consumption - four times solar PV and wind combined.

Bioenergy is renewable energy generated from natural, biological sources such as plants, animals, and their byproducts.

Suggested reading:

Renewables Set To Account For 38% Of German Electricity In 2018

UK renewable energy capacity surpasses fossil fuels for first time (Guardian)

Global renewable energy trends (Deloitte)

BP Statistical Review of Global Energy 2018

Tutor2u revision webinar on renewable energy (March 2018)

Geoff Riley

Geoff Riley FRSA has been teaching Economics for over thirty years. He has over twenty years experience as Head of Economics at leading schools. He writes extensively and is a contributor and presenter on CPD conferences in the UK and overseas.

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