A new report by the International Energy Agency points to the booming success and bright future of wind and solar power as the driving forces behind a renewable energy revolution. Big polluters like China, India, Mexico and the U.S. are leading the worldwide retreat from fossil fuels by shifting toward greener policies and sustainable energy solutions. Advances in technology, increased competition and lower costs have also fueled a flourishing renewable energy sector.

“We are witnessing a transformation of global power markets led by renewables and, as is the case with other fields, the center of gravity for renewable growth is moving to emerging markets,” said Dr. Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director.

The report is brimming with exciting statistics:

  • Renewables are the leading source of global energy, surpassing coal in 2015.
  • Half a million solar panels were installed every day in 2015.
  • In China, two wind turbines were installed every hour in 2015.
  • China accounted for about half of all wind-power additions and 40 percent of all renewable energy growth.
  • Renewables accounted for more than half of new power capacity around the world in 2015.
  • Renewables are expected to remain the fastest-growing source of energy over the next 5 years, with their market share rising to 28 percent by 2021.
  • Solar PV costs are expected to drop 25 percent in the next 5 years.
  • Onshore wind costs are expected to drop 15 percent in the next 5 years.


Infographic: International Energy Agency

Infographic: International Energy Agency

While the report paints a rosy future for renewables, Dr. Birol makes sure to point out that growth is still only a fraction of what it could be.

“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,” said Dr. Birol. “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.”

The IEA has been accused of being pessimistic in its assessment of renewable energy growth in the past, making the effusive optimism in their report even more exciting, and leaving little doubt that we’re in the midst of a renewable energy revolution.

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