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GSR 2015

RENEWABLES 2015 GLOBAL STATUS REPORT 17 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Renewable energy continued to grow in 2014 against the backdrop of increasing global energy consumption, particularly in developing countries, and a dramatic decline in oil prices during the second half of the year. Despite rising energy use, for the first time in four decades, global carbon emissions associated with energy consumption remained stable in 2014 while the global economy grew; this stabilisation has been attributed to increased penetration of renewable energy and to improvements in energy efficiency. Globally, there is growing awareness that increased deployment of renewable energy (and energy efficiency) is critical for addressing climate change, creating new economic opportunities, and providing energy access to the billions of people still living without modern energy services. Although discussion is limited to date, renewables also are an important element of climate change adaptation, improving the resilience of existing energy systems and ensuring delivery of energy services under changing climatic conditions. Renewable energy provided an estimated 19.1% of global final energy consumption in 2013, and growth in capacity and generation continued to expand in 2014. Heating capacity grew at a steady pace, and the production of biofuels for transport increased for the second consecutive year, following a slowdown in 2011–2012. The most rapid growth, and the largest increase in capacity, occurred in the power sector, led by wind, solar PV, and hydropower. Growth has been driven by several factors, including renewable energy support policies and the increasing cost-competiveness of energy from renewable sources. In many countries, renewables are broadly competitive with conventional energy sources. At the same time, growth continues to be tempered by subsidies to fossil fuels and nuclear power, particularly in developing countries. Although Europe remained an important market and a centre for innovation, activity continued to shift towards other regions. China again led the world in new renewable power capacity installations in 2014, and Brazil, India, and South Africa accounted for a large share of the capacity added in their respective regions. An increasing number of developing countries across Asia, Africa, and Latin America became important manufacturers and installers of renewable energy technologies. In parallel with growth in renewable energy markets, 2014 saw significant advances in the development and deployment of energy storage systems across all sectors. The year also saw the increasing electrification of transportation and heating applications, highlighting the potential for further overlap among these sectors in the future. Power: more renewables capacity added than coal and gas combined Renewables represented approximately 58.5% of net additions to global power capacity in 2014, with significant growth in all regions. Wind, solar PV, and hydro power dominated the mar- ket. By year’s end, renewables comprised an estimated 27.7% of the world’s power generating capacity, enough to supply an estimated 22.8% of global electricity. Variable renewables are achieving high levels of penetration in several countries. In response, policymakers in some jurisdic- tions are requiring utilities to update their business models and grid infrastructure. Australia, Europe, Japan, and North America have seen significant growth in numbers of residential “pro- sumers”—electricity customers who produce their own power. Major corporations and institutions around the world made sub- stantial commitments in 2014 to purchase renewable electricity or to invest in their own renewable generating capacity. Heating and Cooling: slow growth but vast potential—key for the energy transition About half of total world final energy consumption in 2014 went to providing heat for buildings and industry, with modern re- newables (mostly biomass) generating approximately 8% of this share. Renewable energy also was used for cooling, a small but rapidly growing sector. The year saw further integration of re- newables into district heating and cooling systems, particularly in Europe; the use of district systems to absorb heat generated by renewable electricity when supply exceeds demand; and the use of hybrid systems to serve different heat applications. De- spite such innovations and renewables’ vast potential in this sec- tor, growth has been constrained by several factors, including a relative lack of policy support. Transport: driven by biofuels, with e-mobility growing rapidly In the transport sector, the primary focus of policies, markets, and industries has been on liquid biofuels. The share of renew- ables in transportation remains small, with liquid biofuels repre- senting the vast majority. Advances in new markets and in ap- plications for biofuels—such as commercial flights being fuelled by aviation biofuel—continued in 2014. Relatively small but in- creasing quantities of gaseous biofuels, including biomethane, also are being used to fuel vehicles. Increased electrification of trains, light rail, trams, and both two- and four-wheeled electric vehicles is creating greater opportunities for the integration of renewable energy into transport.

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