The heyday of renewable energy, the hopeful side of the crisis of the coronavirus pandemic

10 June 2020
Climate change and environment

According to a new study by the UN environment agency, falling oil prices represent an opportunity for a greener post-COVID-19 recovery. The trend towards renewables continues to increase and more momentum is needed to reduce emissions and meet the Paris Agreement targets.

As the fossil fuel industry is being hit by the crisis caused by COVID-19, renewable energy has reached its point of maximum profitability, according to a new report published Wednesday by the United Nations Program to environment.

According to the agency, the drop in costs is an opportunity for governments to prioritize clean energy in their post-COVID-19 economic recovery packages with a view to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement.

More and more voices are calling on governments to use post-COVID-19 recovery plans to create sustainable economies.

According to the report, the installation of 826 gigawatts (GW) of new non-hydro renewable energy capacity is already planned by 2030. However, an additional 3,000 GW will be required in the next decade for the world to succeed in limiting the rise in global temperature in less than 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, the main objective of the Agreement.

The investments planned for 2030, of around a trillion dollars, are even below the 2.7 trillion committed in favor of renewable energies in the past decade.

The report shows that the drop in installation costs means that future investments may deliver higher results than expected. In 2019, the capacity of renewable energies, excluding large hydroelectric dams of more than 50 MW, grew 184 GW, 12% more than in 2018. This increase was achieved with investments of 282.2 billion dollars, only 1% more in than in the previous year.

Furthermore, thanks to technological improvements, economies of scale and fierce competition at auctions, the levelized cost of electricity continued to decline. in the cases of wind and solar energy. The electricity costs of new solar photovoltaic plants in the second half of 2019 were 83% lower than a decade earlier.

“More and more voices are calling on governments to use post-COVID-19 recovery plans to create sustainable economies. This research shows that renewable energy is one of the smartest and most profitable investments we can drive, ”said UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen.

Download our UN News application for IOS or Android. Or subscribe to our newsletter.]

World Cup / Dana Smillie
Cleaning of solar panels at the Ain Beni Mathar Integrated Combined Cycle Thermo-Solar Power Plant, Jerada, Morocco. (June 2010)

A greener future

In the last decade, renewable energy has captured a dominant share of the fossil fuel power generation market. In 2019, investment in renewables, excluding large hydroelectric plants, was more than three times higher than in new fossil fuel plants. “If governments take advantage of the decrease in the costs of renewables to put clean energy at the center from the economic recovery, they will take a big step towards a healthy natural world, which is one of our best insurance policies against pandemics, ”Andersen said.

Almost 78% of the net GW of generation capacity added globally in 2019 they come from wind, solar, biomass and waste, geothermal and small hydroelectric power.

“Renewable energies such as wind and solar already represent almost 80% of the new electricity generation capacity. Investors and markets are convinced of its reliability and competitiveness, ”said Svenja Schulze, German Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.

“Promoting renewable energy can be a powerful engine for the recovery of the economy after the COVID-19 crisis, with the ability to create new and safe jobs,” added Schulze.

“At the same time, renewable energies improve air quality and therefore protect public health. By promoting renewable energy as part of the new coronavirus economic stimulus packages, we have the opportunity to invest in future prosperity, health and climate protection. “

ONU / Evan Schneider
Itaipu Hydroelectric, on the border of Paraguay and Brazil, a source of clean and renewable energy.

Other important data

In 2019, many other records were set, according to the report:

  • Largest one-year solar capacity additions of 118 GW
  • The largest investment in offshore wind in a year, with $ 29.9 billion, equivalent to a 19% increase year-on-year
  • The largest funding for a solar project, with $ 4.3 billion for Al Maktoum IV in the United Arab Emirates
  • The largest volume of corporate agreements to purchase electricity from renewable sources, with 19.5 GW worldwide
  • The largest capacity awarded in renewable energy auctions, with 78.5 GW worldwide
  • The largest investment in renewable energy in developing economies, except China and India, with US $ 59.5 billion
  • An increasingly large investment. A record 21 countries and territories invested more than US $ 2 billion in renewable energy

UNDP Mauritania/Freya Morales
Wind energy is produced on the outskirts of Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania.

A moment to take advantage of

“We see that the energy transition is in full swing, with the largest renewable energy capacity ever funded. Meanwhile, the fossil fuel sector has been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, with a decline in demand for coal and gas electricity in many countries, and falling oil prices, ”he said. Nils Stieglitz, President of the Frankfurt School of Finance and Administration.

“The climate crisis and COVID-19, despite their different nature, are disruptions that require the attention of both policy-makers and managers. Both crises demonstrate the need to increase climate ambition and shift the world’s energy supply towards renewable energy, ”added Stieglitz.

Investment in 2019 raised the share of renewable energies in global generation to 13.4% (excluding large hydroelectric plants), up from 12.4% in 2018 and 5.9% in 2009. This means that, In 2019, renewable power plants prevented the release of an estimated 2.1 gigatons of carbon dioxide, a substantial amount given that global emissions from the power sector were approximately 13.5 gigatons in 2019.

“Clean energy is at a crossroads in 2020,” said Jon Moore, CEO of BloombergNEF. “In the last decade great progress has been made, But the official targets for 2030 are well below what is required to address climate change. When the current crisis eases, governments will need to strengthen their ambitions, not only with respect to renewable energy, but also with respect to the decarbonization of transport, buildings and industry, ”added Moore.

10 June 2020
Climate change and environment

According to a new study by the UN environment agency, falling oil prices represent an opportunity for a greener post-COVID-19 recovery. The trend towards renewables continues to increase and more momentum is needed to reduce emissions and meet the Paris Agreement targets.

As the fossil fuel industry is being hit by the crisis caused by COVID-19, renewable energy has reached its point of maximum profitability, according to a new report published Wednesday by the United Nations Program to environment.

According to the agency, the drop in costs is an opportunity for governments to prioritize clean energy in their post-COVID-19 economic recovery packages with a view to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement.

More and more voices are calling on governments to use post-COVID-19 recovery plans to create sustainable economies.

According to the report, the installation of 826 gigawatts (GW) of new non-hydro renewable energy capacity is already planned by 2030. However, an additional 3,000 GW will be required in the next decade for the world to succeed in limiting the rise in global temperature in less than 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, the main objective of the Agreement.

The investments planned for 2030, of around a trillion dollars, are even below the 2.7 trillion committed in favor of renewable energies in the past decade.

The report shows that the drop in installation costs means that future investments may deliver higher results than expected. In 2019, the capacity of renewable energies, excluding large hydroelectric dams of more than 50 MW, grew 184 GW, 12% more than in 2018. This increase was achieved with investments of 282.2 billion dollars, only 1% more in than in the previous year.

Furthermore, thanks to technological improvements, economies of scale and fierce competition at auctions, the levelized cost of electricity continued to decline. in the cases of wind and solar energy. The electricity costs of new solar photovoltaic plants in the second half of 2019 were 83% lower than a decade earlier.

“More and more voices are calling on governments to use post-COVID-19 recovery plans to create sustainable economies. This research shows that renewable energy is one of the smartest and most profitable investments we can drive, ”said UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen.

Download our UN News application for IOS or Android. Or subscribe to our newsletter.]

World Cup / Dana Smillie
Cleaning of solar panels at the Ain Beni Mathar Integrated Combined Cycle Thermo-Solar Power Plant, Jerada, Morocco. (June 2010)

A greener future

In the last decade, renewable energy has captured a dominant share of the fossil fuel power generation market. In 2019, investment in renewables, excluding large hydroelectric plants, was more than three times higher than in new fossil fuel plants. “If governments take advantage of the decrease in the costs of renewables to put clean energy at the center from the economic recovery, they will take a big step towards a healthy natural world, which is one of our best insurance policies against pandemics, ”Andersen said.

Almost 78% of the net GW of generation capacity added globally in 2019 they come from wind, solar, biomass and waste, geothermal and small hydroelectric power.

“Renewable energies such as wind and solar already represent almost 80% of the new electricity generation capacity. Investors and markets are convinced of its reliability and competitiveness, ”said Svenja Schulze, German Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.

“Promoting renewable energy can be a powerful engine for the recovery of the economy after the COVID-19 crisis, with the ability to create new and safe jobs,” added Schulze.

“At the same time, renewable energies improve air quality and therefore protect public health. By promoting renewable energy as part of the new coronavirus economic stimulus packages, we have the opportunity to invest in future prosperity, health and climate protection. “

ONU / Evan Schneider
Itaipu Hydroelectric, on the border of Paraguay and Brazil, a source of clean and renewable energy.

Other important data

In 2019, many other records were set, according to the report:

  • Largest one-year solar capacity additions of 118 GW
  • The largest investment in offshore wind in a year, with $ 29.9 billion, equivalent to a 19% increase year-on-year
  • The largest funding for a solar project, with $ 4.3 billion for Al Maktoum IV in the United Arab Emirates
  • The largest volume of corporate agreements to purchase electricity from renewable sources, with 19.5 GW worldwide
  • The largest capacity awarded in renewable energy auctions, with 78.5 GW worldwide
  • The largest investment in renewable energy in developing economies, except China and India, with US $ 59.5 billion
  • An increasingly large investment. A record 21 countries and territories invested more than US $ 2 billion in renewable energy

UNDP Mauritania/Freya Morales
Wind energy is produced on the outskirts of Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania.

A moment to take advantage of

“We see that the energy transition is in full swing, with the largest renewable energy capacity ever funded. Meanwhile, the fossil fuel sector has been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, with a decline in demand for coal and gas electricity in many countries, and falling oil prices, ”he said. Nils Stieglitz, President of the Frankfurt School of Finance and Administration.

“The climate crisis and COVID-19, despite their different nature, are disruptions that require the attention of both policy-makers and managers. Both crises demonstrate the need to increase climate ambition and shift the world’s energy supply towards renewable energy, ”added Stieglitz.

Investment in 2019 raised the share of renewable energies in global generation to 13.4% (excluding large hydroelectric plants), up from 12.4% in 2018 and 5.9% in 2009. This means that, In 2019, renewable power plants prevented the release of an estimated 2.1 gigatons of carbon dioxide, a substantial amount given that global emissions from the power sector were approximately 13.5 gigatons in 2019.

“Clean energy is at a crossroads in 2020,” said Jon Moore, CEO of BloombergNEF. “In the last decade great progress has been made, But the official targets for 2030 are well below what is required to address climate change. When the current crisis eases, governments will need to strengthen their ambitions, not only with respect to renewable energy, but also with respect to the decarbonization of transport, buildings and industry, ”added Moore.