LONDON (Reuters) - A record amount of renewable power capacity was installed worldwide last year as the cost of wind and solar became even more competitive with fossil fuels, research by renewables policy organisation REN21 showed.
Renewable power generation capacity had its largest annual increase yet in 2017, with an estimated 178 gigawatts (GW) of capacity added, REN21 said in its annual renewables global status report.
New solar photovoltaic capacity reached a record 98 GW in 2017, up 29 percent from the previous year, while new wind capacity was at 52 GW, 4 percent lower than in 2016.
Total global renewable power capacity, including hydropower, rose to 2,195 GW in 2017 from 2,017 GW in the previous year.
The world added more renewable capacity than new fossil fuel generation. In 2017, renewables accounted for 70 percent of net additions to global generating capacity, the report said.
New investment in renewable power and fuels was almost $279 billion (209.05 billion pounds), up from $274 billion in 2016 and more than twice that of new fossil fuel and nuclear power capacity.
However, energy demand and energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rose for the first time in four years last year.
Global energy demand was 2.1 percent higher and CO2 emissions were 1.4 percent higher due to economic growth in emerging economies and population rises.
“Renewable energy uptake is not keeping pace with this increasing energy demand and the continuous investment in fossil and nuclear capacity,” REN21 said in a statement.
The heating, cooling and transport sectors – which together account for about four-fifths of global final energy demand – continue to lag behind the power sector.
Around 92 percent of transport energy demand continues to be met by oil and only 42 countries have national targets for the use of renewable energy in transport.
“We may be racing down the pathway towards a 100 percent renewable electricity future but when it comes to heating, cooling and transport, we are coasting along as if we had all the time in the world. Sadly, we don’t,” said Randa Adib, executive secretary of REN21.
Editing by David Evans