Despite President Trump’s recent announcement about backing out of the Paris Climate Agreement or the subsidies for fossil fuels being higher than those for ‘green energy’, the world and even America are making strides toward adopting renewable energy.
By Victoria Womersley
The Renewable Energies Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) states that the global energy transition is well underway. REN21, comprised of public and private sector groups covering 155 nations and 96% of the world’s population, stated that renewable energy sources installed in 2016 set new records with 161 gigawatts (GW) added, increasing the global total by almost 9% relative to 2015.
This is partly due to the fact that the cost of power from solar and wind is falling. Tenders for solar PV were at record highs in Argentina, Chile, India, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Emirates with some bids as low as USD 0.03 per kilowatt-hour. Similar developments in wind power in India, Mexico and Morocco along with offshore wind power in Denmark and the Netherlands has helped along this process.
On top of this, more cities, states, countries and major corporations have committed to 100% renewable energy targets, not least of all because it makes economic and business sense. Throughout 2016 the number of cities around the world committed to transitioning to 100% renewable energy carried on growing. Some cities and communities have already achieved this target – more than 100 Japanese communities now power themselves completely with renewables.
It’s not only corporations and communities committing to becoming 100% renewable, the United States’ largest active army base on American soil in Fort Hood, home to 36,500 active-duty personnel and including 6,000 buildings, began drawing nearly half of their power from solar and wind sources on June 5th – just days after the President’s announcement.
Chris Haug, a spokesman for the military base was quoted saying, ‘We need to be autonomous. If the unfortunate thing happened and we were under attack or someone attacked our power grid, you’d certainly want Fort Hood to be able to respond.’
Over the past decade, U.S military and intelligence officials developed an agreement covering the threats that climate change presents. Thanks to their reasoning, between 2011 and 2015 the number of military renewable projects almost tripled to 1,390.
As the cost of renewable energy drops and investment remains strong – much larger than the global investment in all fossil fuels – it appears to be that the world is carrying on working towards a cleaner and more sustainable future, with or without the backing of one of the largest economies on Earth. As Christine Lins, Executive Secretary of REN21 said, “Trump’s withdrawal of the US from the Paris agreement is unfortunate, but the renewables train has already left the station and those who ignore renewables’ central role in climate change mitigation risk being left behind.”
[Picture: Wind Energy in America infographic; Credit: Sarah Gerrity / U.S. Department of Energy]