The costs of adopting clean power technologies continues to fall but investment levels must rise to meet climate targets and support COVID-19 recovery plans. These are some of the findings in the new Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2020 report published this week, by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre and BloombergNEF (BNEF).
Looking at investment trends last year, the report shows that 2019 was a bumper 12 months. Offshore wind had a record breaking year, attracting its highest one-year investment, at US$29.9 billion. Solar power was another big winner, with 118 GW of added capacity, its strongest 12-month showing. In total, 184 GW of renewable energy capacity was added in 2019, a 20 GW increase from the 164 GW added in 2018. And, due to falling costs, it was achieved with the same investment levels.
To support the Paris Agreement goal to limit temperature rises under 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels though, the report says governments and businesses will need to go much further than the current commitments planned by 2030. That means working to deliver an additional 3,000GW by 2030, not the ‘826 GW of new non-hydro renewable power planned’. And falling costs make this easier to deliver, and offer an immediate opportunity to generate much needed stimulus to economies ravaged by COVID-19.
“If governments take advantage of the ever-falling price tag of renewables to put clean energy at the heart of COVID-19 economic recovery, they can take a big step towards a healthy natural world, which is the best insurance policy against global pandemics,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP.
Leaders are being urged to now use a record 2019 as the launchpad to deliver a decade of highs.
“We see the energy transition is in full swing, with the highest capacity of renewables financed ever. Meanwhile, the fossil fuel sector has been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis – with demand for coal- and gas-fired electricity down in many countries, and oil prices slumping,” added Nils Stieglitz, President of Frankfurt School of Finance & Management. “The climate and COVID-19 crises – despite their different natures – are both disruptions that command attention from policy makers and managers alike. Both crises demonstrate the need to increase climate ambition and shift the world’s energy supply towards renewables.”
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