Jun 23, 2019 - Energy & Environment

Solar energy use is on the rise worldwide

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Reproduced from REN21; Chart: Axios Visuals

As the U.S. solar market continues to grow, a new report offers a nice snapshot of the global picture on solar and other renewables.

The big picture: "Solar photovoltaics (PV) and wind are now mainstream options in the power sector, with an increasing number of countries generating more than 20% of their electricity with solar PV and wind," notes the report from the group REN21.

Check out the chart above, which shows that installed global solar PV capacity reached 505 gigawatts last year.

Threat level: While renewable power is increasingly mainstream, the report from REN21 — a coalition of governments, NGOs, industry groups and more — flashes a bunch of warning signs.

  • It notes the worldwide growth rate of new renewable capacity additions has leveled off.
  • And, it argues, the pace of movement to renewables outside the power system is far too slow as global CO2 emissions keep rising.

The bottom line: "The lack of ambitious and sustained policies to drive decarbonisation in the heating, cooling and transport sectors means that countries are not maximising the benefits of the transition — including cleaner air and energy security — for their populations," states the Renewables 2019 Global Status Report.

Go deeper: The global transition to clean energy, explained in 12 charts (Vox)

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Wind and solar would struggle to replace coal-mining jobs

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A global transition is underway from coal to renewable energy, but a corresponding jobs shift is far less certain.

Driving the news: Wind-industry jobs aren’t a “feasible” replacement for local coal-mining jobs in the world’s four biggest coal-producing nations, and although solar is better situated than wind, it would require a massive buildout, a new peer-reviewed report finds.

Why India needs cheap batteries

Reproduced from IEA; Chart: Axios Visuals

A new International Energy Agency analysis highlights the importance of battery storage paired with renewables in helping to decarbonize power.

Why it matters: India, the focus of the analysis, is the world's third-largest greenhouse gas emitter (after China and the U.S.) and suffers from terrible air quality problems.

Go deeperArrowJan 28, 2020

Solar Orbiter to offer a new look at our nearest star

Artist's illustration of the Solar Orbiter. Image: NASA/NASA Goddard

A new mission expected to launch to space from Florida on Sunday will give scientists an unprecedented view of the Sun.

Why it matters: Despite decades of studying our closest star, scientists still can't accurately predict our Sun's behavior — when it will eject solar flares, sprout sunspots or how the solar wind works.

Go deeperArrowFeb 4, 2020 - Science