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World’s renewable energy capacity is rising but not meeting the needs

With the decade closing in at the end of this year, renewable energy capacity is treading to hit the total global investment of USD 2.6 trillion. This quadrupled investment will boost the renewable energy capacity, excluding the large hydro projects, from 414 GW in 2009 to 1,659 GW by the end of this year.

While the investment in renewables sphere is rising, it's not rising at the pace to effectively address the climate impacts; It’s also failing to catch up with the rising energy needs of the world.

The emissions by the global electricity-sector have gone up by at least 10%. However, the rise in the global renewable energy generations, from 11.6% in 2017 to 12.9% in 2018, has helped in offsetting 2 giga tonnes of CO2.

According to The Global Trends in The Renewable Energy Investment report, which is commissioned by the UN Environment Programme and supported by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety, solar projects have shown robust growth owing to these investments, resulting in 81% decrease in PV electricity-cost since 2009. The onshore wind recorded 46% decrease in the cost since the same period. These dramatic cost reductions are a result of economies-of-scale in manufacturing, improvements in the efficiency of the equipments and aggressive competitions due to auctions in many countries.

China is aggressive about its renewable goals, and has so far invested a whooping USD 758 billion before the end of the decade — highest in the world. U.S. invested USD 356 billion scoring a second place. Japan is third with USD 202 billion. EU invested USD 698 billion, with Germany contributing the most — USD 179 billion, followed by U.K with USD 122 billion.

The confidence in renewables sector is not resilient yet. Global investment in the sector faltered by 12%, in 2018, to USD 272.9 billion over the previous year.

India is gaining recognition, too, for its increasing investments in renewables sector. It has committed USD 80 billion this decade, with USD 11 billion in 2018 alone. However, India’s tough reliance on coal makes the offsetting of emissions excruciatingly difficult and the recent fall in GDP may not help the sector with the same robust growth anytime soon.   

By Prasad Badgujar