Renewable energy capacity hit record high in 2016
Last year saw continued renewable power source installation, reaching a record high of 138.5 gigawatts of capacity added globally, according to New Atlas, citing a report by UN Environment, the Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre and Bloomberg New Energy Finance. That’s roughly on par with the combined energy of the world's 16-biggest power-producing plants.
Solar and wind power drove growth in renewable energy production during the year, supported by decreases in technology prices. The increase in renewable power in 2016 cut carbon dioxide emissions that would have roughly equaled the exhaust from 211,233,570 vehicles.
- Looking ahead, industry observers see the need for greater investment in developing large-scale storage technology for wind- and solar-power that would encourage and support mainstream adoption.
Across the market, energy efficiency is gaining traction as project owners begin to favor renewable energy sources and architects, engineers and contractors implement more sustainable products and practices.
Energy-related projects provided more than 2 million construction jobs last year alone — or roughly one-third of the construction workforce. The sector stands to see rising demand for skilled workers in the field and an increase in the number of energy-related projects it produces.
On the housing side, a recent report by the National Association of Realtors found that more than half of real estate agents surveyed said buyers were interested in the topic of energy efficiency as it concerned their homes.
Companies like Tesla, with its new rooftop photovoltaic system, aim to make solar energy more accessible to the residential sector. Meanwhile, developers are planning entire communities around renewable energy, such as Miami-based Lennar's concept to develop a 180-home, master-planned community powered by an onsite, 443-acre photovoltaic system. More still, initiatives like those to include Home Energy Rating System scores in some home appraisals are pushing green building further into the mainstream.
- New Atlas Record levels of renewable energy in 2016, but what else do the numbers say?
- FS-UNEP Collaborating Center Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment
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