The Highlights of GSR 2018

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First released in 2005, REN21’s Renewables Global Status Report (GSR) has grown to become a truly collaborative effort, drawing on an international network of over 900 authors, contributors, and reviewers. Today it is the most frequently referenced report on renewable energy market, industry and policy trends.

This year’s Renewables 2018 Global Status Report (GSR) reveals two realities: one in which a revolution in the power sector is driving rapid change towards a renewable energy future, and another in which the overall transition is not advancing with the speed needed.

The REN21 Renewables 2018 Global Status Report (GSR) portrays a dynamic renewable power sector characterized by falling costs, increased investment, record-setting installation and new, innovative business models that are creating rapid change. Thanks to years of active policy support and driven by technology advances, rapid growth and dramatic reductions in costs of solar photovoltaics (PV) and wind, renewable electricity is now less expensive than newly installed fossil and nuclear energy generation in many parts of the world; in some places it is less expensive even than operating existing conventional power plants.

But these positive developments tell only part of the story. The global energy transition is only fully underway for the power sector; for other sectors it has barely begun. The power sector on its own will not deliver the emissions reductions demanded by the Paris climate agreement or the aspirations of Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG 7) to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all. The heating and cooling and transport sectors, which together account for about 80% of global total final energy demand, are lagging behind.

In 2017, China, Europe, and the US accounted for nearly 75% of the global investment in renewable power and fuels. While investment in these major markets is impressive and needs to continue, there are also examples of significant investment in developing country markets. China had a high level of investment— an increase of 30.7% from the previous year. However, when measured per unit of gross domestic product (GDP), the Marshall Islands, Rwanda, the Solomon Islands, Guinea-Bissau, and many other developing countries are investing as much as or more in renewables than developed and emerging economies. These positive trends need to be scaled up for a global energy transition. Furthermore, a booming global economy combined with weaker improvements in energy intensity led to an increase in energy demand of an estimated 2.1% in 2017 (more than twice the average increase over the previous five years). Energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rose—by an estimated 1.4%—for the first time in four years, at a time when climate scientists say that emissions need to be in steep decline.

There is uneven progress between the sectors and between the different geographical regions, and a fundamental disconnect between commitments and real action on the ground. Simply put, the global renewable energy transition is progressing far too slowly. But, there have been many positive developments that demonstrate the central role that renewables can play in the overall energy system.

The share of renewables in final energy consumption continues to grow globally with some technologies growing very rapidly. To know more, please check


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