EGEB: In 2019, 72% of the world’s new energy projects were green

In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • Green energy made up nearly three-quarters of the world’s new energy projects in 2019.
  • Warren and Markey ask why the EPA aren’t enforcing pollution rules during the pandemic.
  • Oslo is undertaking what is apparently the world’s first net-zero construction project.

The Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB): A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

Green was good in 2019

Green energy made up 72% of all new energy projects in 2019, and solar and wind made up 90% of those projects, according to a new report, “Renewable Capacity Statistics 2020,” from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

That’s a net increase in global renewable generation capacity of 176GW, or 7.4%, last year. Geographically, more than half — 54% — of that new capacity occurred in Asia. That continent increased its renewable capacity by 95.5GW to reach 1.12TW, of 44% of the global total.

IRENA continues the global breakdown:

Capacity in Europe and North America expanded by 35GW (+6.6%) and 22GW (+6.0%), respectively. Oceania and the Middle East were the fastest growing regions (+18.4% and +12.6%, respectively), although their share of global capacity is small. Africa has a similar amount of renewable capacity, but this only increased by 2GW (+4.3%). Compared to 2018, capacity growth in Asia and Africa was somewhat lower than in 2019, but higher in Europe and North America.

Wind expanded by nearly 60GW, which was higher than 2018. China and the US continued to dominate, with increases of 26GW and 9GW, respectively.

Asia continued to dominate global solar capacity expansion with a 56GW increase. China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Vietnam had the most new capacity in 2019.

Overall, hydropower made up the largest share of the global total of 2,537GW, with a capacity of 1,190GW, or 47%, thus bringing it to 44% of the global total. However, growth in hydro was unusually low in 2019 due to some large projects missing projected completion dates.

Francesco La Camera, director general of IRENA said [via the Guardian]:

In responding to today’s crisis, governments may be tempted to focus on short-term solutions. Yet distinctions between short-, medium-, and long-term challenges may be deceptive. The pandemic shows that delayed action brings significant economic consequences.

EPA challenged

As Electrek reported on March 27, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a suspension of the enforcement of environmental rules, saying it “will generally not seek stipulated or other penalties for noncompliance with such obligations” during the coronavirus outbreak. There is no end date for this policy.

The senators from Massachusetts have now demanded an explanation for this enforcement suspension. On Friday, April 3, Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Ed Markey (D-MA) sent a letter to EPA head Andrew Wheeler, demanding that the EPA answer six questions by April 17. In a nutshell, the six questions consist of wanting to know what the rationale is behind the decision; who authorized it; how records will be maintained; whether meetings were held with fossil-fuel lobbyists, and if so, when and with who; and finally, whether the EPA conducted any analyses before the decision was made.

The oil and gas industry had been lobbying the EPA for weeks for a relaxation of the rules; Big Oil is in utter turmoil due to oversupply and a battle between Saudi Arabia and Russia over production, with every day bringing another dramatic development.

Warren told BuzzFeed News:

This pandemic isn’t an excuse for polluters to ignore the law and for EPA to let them get away with it.

It’s absurd that Donald Trump and former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler are using this public health and economic crisis as a cover to roll back environmental laws. The government should be focused on protecting public health now, not making it worse.

E&E News reported that the EPA has refused to disclose how many companies sought waivers of noncompliance due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Norwegian net-zero construction

Oslo is apparently running the first urban emission-free construction project in the world, where only electric equipment is being used. The city has declared that buildings must now be erected with fossil-fuel-free machinery.

In the Norwegian capital, around 20% of CO2 emissions has come from construction machinery, so this kind of project has enormous pollution-reducing potential.

The Swiss ZERON ZE85 battery-powered electric excavator, which was unveiled in May 2019, is being used in the pilot project in the upgrade of Oslo’s Olav V Street and Klingenberg Street. The ZE85 is the first electric excavator with an integrated CCS fast-charging interface. It can be quick charged in an hour. The charging system was developed by Zurich-headquartered startup SUNCAR, which specializes in the electrification of construction machines, utility, and municipal vehicles.

SUNCAR electrifies excavators and other construction equipment for major manufacturers such as Hitachi, Liebherr, and others.

Here’s a video posted by construction machinery company Nasta that provides details about the project’s net zero construction excavator:

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.