The Renewables 2019 Global Status Report (GSR 2019) marks 15 years since Bonn2004, the landmark international conference that gave rise to REN21. Then, a “coalition of the willing” came together with one objective in mind: to support and accelerate the development of renewable energy. From the outset, REN21’s mandate has been to collect, consolidate and synthesise a vast body of renewable energy data to provide clear and reliable information on what is happening in real time. This mandate still holds today.
The evidence from 2018 clearly indicates that renewable power is here to stay. Solar photovoltaics (PV) and wind are now mainstream options in the power sector, with an increasing number of countries generating more than 20% of their electricity with solar PV and wind. This is good news. But current trends show that bolder policy decisions are needed across all sectors of energy end-use to make our energy systems sustainable.
The lack of ambitious and sustained policies to drive decarbonisation in the heating, cooling and transport sectors means that countries are not maximising the benefits of the transition – including cleaner air and energy security – for their populations. On a global level, these sectors remain heavily reliant on fossil fuels, which are highly subsidised in many countries. In addition, the policy effort focused on these sectors has been insufficient compared to the power sector. Data in this year’s report clearly illustrate that ambitious policy and regulatory frameworks are needed to create favourable and competitive conditions, allowing renewable energy to grow and displace more expensive and carbon-emitting fuels.
Cities increasingly are strong drivers in renewable energy deployment, adopting some of the most ambitious targets for renewables globally. This year’s Feature chapter outlines commitments and actions at the city level that are, in numerous cases, exceeding national and state/provincial initiatives. Given the role of cities in the energy transition, REN21 has initiated the Renewables in Cities Global Status Report, using the same process and rigorous standards of the GSR but looking at the city level.
The underlying data and information in GSR 2019 show that an array of opportunities exist to extend the benefits of the energy transition throughout the economy. These opportunities, overarching trends and developments are detailed in the complementary Perspectives on the Global Renewable Energy Transition, which has been written to help readers more easily grasp the significance of the latest renewable energy developments. Together, these two publications make a powerful statement about the central role of renewables in establishing a sustainable energy future.
These publications are the product of the collective work of a robust and dynamic international community of renewable energy contributors, researchers and authors, making the GSR a truly collaborative effort. On behalf of the REN21 Secretariat, I would like to thank all those who have contributed to the successful production of GSR 2019. Particular thanks go to the REN21 Research Direction Team of Hannah E. Murdock, Duncan Gibb and Thomas André; Special Advisors Janet L. Sawin, Adam Brown and Hugo Lucas; Data Advisor Freyr Sverrisson; REN21 editor Lisa Mastny; the chapter authors; and the entire team at the REN21 Secretariat, under the leadership of REN21’s Executive Secretary Rana Adib.
Achieving 2030 development objectives means moblising people to think critically about the energy sector, starting with making renewable energy relevant to decision makers both inside and outside of the energy world. I believe that this year’s report and the accompanying Perspectives contribute to that process.
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