Last year saw 161 gigawatts (GW) of renewable power capacity installed, a new report from the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) says.
According to the Renewables 2017 Global Status Report, released on Wednesday, solar photovoltaic represented roughly 47 percent of capacity added, followed by wind power and hydro, which accounted for 34 and 15.5 percent respectively. Global capacity grew by nearly 9 percent compared to 2015, hitting almost 2,017 GW.
While the investment of $241.6 billion in renewable power and fuels – excluding hydropower projects bigger than 50 megawatts – was a 23 percent reduction compared to 2015, this decline "accompanied a record installation of renewable power capacity worldwide," REN21 said.
"The world is adding more renewable power capacity each year than it adds in new capacity from all fossil fuels combined," Arthouros Zervos, REN21's chair, said in a statement.
Zervos went on to add that as the share of renewables grew, investment in infrastructure would be needed in addition to tools such as integrated transmission and distribution networks; measures to balance supply and demand; sector coupling such as the integration of power and transport networks; and the deployment of "enabling technologies."
When it comes to the environment, REN21 said that worldwide energy-related CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and industry were stable, despite the global economy growing three percent and greater demand for energy. This, it added, was primarily down to the decline of coal as well as improvements in energy efficiency and the growth of renewable capacity.
"The world is in a race against time. The single most important thing we could do to reduce CO2 emissions quickly and cost-effectively, is phase-out coal and speed up investments in energy efficiency and renewables," Christine Lins, executive secretary of REN21, said.
"When China announced in January that it was cancelling more than 100 coal plants currently in development, they set an example for governments everywhere: change happens quickly when governments act – by establishing clear, long-term policy and financial signals and incentives."