Renewables 2016 Global Status Report

REN 21


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 e‡iciency, 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 e‡iciency 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 e‡iciency; 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 a‡ect 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.


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