For the second year in a row, the world added “more capacity” for clean, renewable energy than it did for fossil fuels, according to an analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Last year’s additions followed the shift in 2013, when 143 gigawatts of renewable energy electricity were added, and just 141 gigawatts “in new plants that burn fossil fuels.”
“This electricity system is shifting to clean,” said BNEF founder Michael Liebreich at the group’s annual summit this month. “Despite the change in oil and gas prices there is going to be a substantial buildout of renewable energy that is likely to be an order of magnitude larger than the buildout of coal and gas.”
BNEF predictions show that, because of the continually dropping price of wind and solar power, the addition of power capacity for renewables will only continue to increase over the next 15 years.
As the shift to renewable energy moves forward, one of the biggest problems facing the transition is the cost. According to BNEF, by 2016, about $550 million needs to be invested in clean energy to minimize the effects of climate change. The BNEF chart below shows the investment needed compared with what has actually been spent in recent years.
While the recent increase in capacity is definitely a step in the right direction, clean energy has a long way to go before it finally replaces fossil fuels. Given that most of the Republicans controlling Washington right now deny that climate change even exists, it’s not going to be an easy road.