(October 2016) - Renewable energy resources have increasingly become mainstream energy soures worldwide, catapulted by new capacity in developing countries. Depending on the source, renewable energy has or is poised to surpass coal to become the world's largest source of electrical power capacity. The International Energy Agency (IEA) in its most recent medium-term renewable market report said that this transition occurred during 2015, while according to the latest energy outlook by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) the transition will be completed in 2016.

  • The IEA report shows that in 2015 renewables contributed more than half of the growth of installed power capacity globally.
  • New power capacity gains were driven mostly by wind and solar additions, representing 45 and 24 percent of the total renewable capacity increases, respectively.
  • In 2015, China accounted for as much as 41 percent of global wind power additions and about 44 percent of the total renewable power capacity increases around the world. 

Better access to financing, improving cost-competitiveness of renewable technologies, energy security and environmental concerns, and growing demand for energy have factored into the transformation to different degrees depending on the country and renewable source.

  • In 2015, investment in renewables climbed to a new record level. In addition, for the sixth consecutive year, renewables outpaced fossil fuels for net investment in power capacity additions.
  • In parallel with growth in markets and investments, 2015 saw continued advances in renewable energy technologies, progress in energy storage development and commercialization, and increased employment in the renewable energy sector.
  • The number of countries with policy targets for renewable energy use has risen from 79 in 2008 to 173 in 2015. Iceland and Norway generate all their electricity using renewable energy already, and many other countries have the set a goal to reach 100% renewable-based energy generation. For example, the government of Denmark aims to switch the country's total energy supply - including electricity, mobility, and heating/cooling - to 100% renewable energy by 2050.

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