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REN21 10 Years Report - Introduction

5 01 The evolution of renewable energy over the past decade has sur- passed all expectations. Global installed capacity and produc- tion from all renewable technologies have increased substan- tially, and supporting policies have continued to spread to more countries in all regions of the world. Developments in the early 2000s showed upward trends in global renewable energy investment, capacity, and integration across all sectors, yet most mainstream projections did not predict the extraordinary expansion of renewables that was to unfold over the decade ahead. Several factors set the foundation for this rapid growth. The various energy crises—beginning in the 1970s—and the subse- quent economic downturns underscored the role of energy for both national and economic security. At the same time, a hand- ful of pioneering countries—such as Germany, Denmark, Spain, and the United States—created critical markets for renewables, which drove early technological advances and economies of scale, setting the stage and helping to fuel the past decade of explosive market expansion. Growing emphasis on mitigating cli- mate change and adapting to its impacts has further contributed to the momentum. Renewable energy’s contribution to the global heat, power and transport sectors has increased steadily. While growth in renew- able’s share of total energy use has been moderated by increases in both population and world energy demand—most notably in developing and emerging economies—renewable energy mar- kets and technology developments have accelerated quickly, even when compared to other rapidly developing technologies such as mobile phones. Although the last decade has seen tremendous advances in the electricity sector, the renewable heating and cooling sector has lagged behind. This is despite the marked growth since 2004 in the use of geothermal, solar thermal, and biomass heating tech- nologies for water and space heating, process heat, and cool- ing. Given that the share of heating and cooling in final energy demand is much larger than that of electricity, fostering growth of renewable energy in this sector is crucial. In the transport sector, the use of renewable energy in the form of biofuels grew at a rapid pace for much of the past decade. Biodiesel production increased twelve-fold, ethanol production, already at a higher starting point, grew three-fold. Over the same period, a small but growing use of gaseous biofuels in transport emerged, as well as initiatives to link renewable energy with electric transport. A Decade of Change Global perceptions of renewable energy have shifted consider- ably. Ten years ago people widely acknowledged the potential of renewable energy, but large-scale deployment still had to be demonstrated. Now 10 years on, continuing technology advances and rapid deployment of many renewable energy technologies—particularly in the electricity sector—have amply demonstrated their potential. Today, renewable energy technologies are viewed not only as tools for improving energy security and mitigating and adapting to climate change, but are also increasingly recognised as investments that can provide direct and indirect economic advantages by reducing dependence on imported fuels; improving local air quality and safety; advancing energy access and security; propelling economic development; and creating jobs. Decliningcostshavealsoplayedasignificantroleintheexpansion of renewable energy deployment in recent years. Several renewable energy technologies are today cost-competitive with conventional generation technologies, even before the environment and other externalities are taken into consideration. Extraordinary growth in renewable energy markets and their global spread has also led to a significant rise in the number of manufacturers, the scale of manufacturing, an overall increase in number of jobs installing and servicing renewable energy technologies, as well as expansion into new markets. This is particularly true for the solar PV and wind power industries, despite experiencing industry consolidation, driven by decreasing costs. Introduction 1

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