The reliance we place on fossil fuels has taken its toll. Many of the environmental issues we’re faced with today come as a result of our inability to move away from fossil fuels like coal as a means for energy. Although companies and innovators are coming up with ways to combat harmful air pollution, global warming, and other environmental problems, we’ll never really have a solution until we’re able to rely on renewable energy to power our daily lives. Until we’re able to substitute renewable energy for fossil fuels, any solutions we create will only be covering up the real problem.
However, we are making giant steps in the right direction, and renewable energy is becoming more prevalent throughout the global community. Over 500,000 solar panels were installed each day last year, and renewables finally passed coal in order to become the largest source of power capacity on a global scale. The International Energy Agency, or IEA, reported that renewables accounted for more than half of the new power capacity around the planet. Solar and wind power are responsible for leading this drive away from fossil fuels more than any other forms of renewable energy.
Installation of environmentally friendly energy sources was up a total of 15 percent in 2014, which forced the IEA to change its predictions for renewables. They predicted the use of renewables to increase by only 13 percent between 2015 and 2021, underestimating how quickly countries would start following suit. The movement is largely driven by Asia, with China in the captain’s chair, but India and the United States have been contributing significantly. Europe, once thought to be the leader of the renewable energy movement, is falling behind.
“I am pleased to see that last year was one of records for renewables and that our projections for growth over the next five years are more optimistic. However, even these higher expectations remain modest compared with the huge untapped potential of renewables. The IEA will be working with governments around the world to maximize the deployment of renewables in coming years,” explains IEA Executive Director Dr. Faith Birol in a statement.
Although the new capacity added has accounted for a record 153 Gigawatts of renewable power, this type of electricity generation is only expected to make up around 28 percent of all generation globally by 2021. Green, environmentally friendly energy is the fastest growing source of electricity generation in the world, but we’re still falling short in regards to meeting the Paris Climate Agreement, and we won’t be able to keep the planet below a 3.6 degree Fahrenheit warming temperature.
This increase in the use of renewable energy, especially solar and wind power, isn’t only driven by the looming Paris Climate Agreement, it’s also driven by human safety. In Asia, the main concern is air pollution and population health, not meeting the terms of the agreement. Diversifying the energy supply while improving energy security also plays a role in the renewable rise.
As we move forward, we will continue to see a shift in power markets being led by renewables. The market for these types of renewable energies is getting more competitive, which means costs will continue to drop. It’s never been a better time to invest in something real, renewable, and vital.