Key findings GLOBAL OVERVIEW
An extraordinary year for renewable energy The year 2015 was an extraordinary one for renewable energy, with the largest global capacity additions seen to date, although challenges remain, particularly beyond the power sector. The year saw several developments that all have a bearing on renewable energy, including a dramatic decline in global fossil fuel prices; a series of announcements regarding the lowest-ever prices for renewable power long-term contracts; a significant increase in attention to energy storage; and a historic climate agreement in Paris that brought together the global community.
Renewables are now established around the world as mainstream sources of energy. Rapid growth, particularly in the power sector, is driven by several factors, including the improving cost-competiveness of renewable technologies, dedicated policy initiatives, better access to financing, energy security and environmental concerns, growing demand for energy in developing and emerging economies, and the need for access to modern energy. Consequently, new markets for both centralised and distributed renewable energy are emerging in all regions.
2015 was a year of firsts and high-profile agreements and announcements related to renewable energy. These include commitments by both the G7 and the G20 to accelerate access to renewable energy and to advance energy eiciency, and the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption of a dedicated Sustainable Development Goal on Sustainable Energy for All (SDG 7).
The year’s events culminated in December at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) 21 st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris, where 195 countries agreed to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius.
A majority of countries committed to scaling up renewable energy and energy eiciency through their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). Out of the 189 countries that submitted INDCs, 147 countries mentioned renewable energy, and 167 countries mentioned energy eiciency; in addition, some countries committed to reforming their subsidies for fossil fuels.
Precedent-setting commitments to renewable energy also were made by regional, state and local governments as well as by the private sector. Although many of the initiatives announced in Paris and elsewhere did not start to aect renewable markets in 2015, there were already signs that a global energy transition is under way. Renewable energy provided an estimated 19.2% of global final energy consumption in 2014, and growth in capacity and generation continued in 2015.