If you’re skeptical about the potential of renewable energy in preventing a climate catastrophe in the following decades, consider this: between 2010 and 2019, the world poured $2.6 trillion into clean energy sources and boosted capacity from 414 gigawatts to 1,650 gigawatts, according to a new report by the United Nations.
Last year, renewables accounted for 12.9 percent of the world’s electricity, helping prevent two billion tons of carbon emissions being released into our atmosphere. Solar on its own, which attracted half of that $2.6 trillion investment, jumped from 25 gigawatts of global capacity in 2009 to 663 gigawatts by the end of this year. That’s a bigger growth spurt than any other power source, renewables or otherwise. High investment, dropping prices and runaway installations have helped propel the technology from weird niche to key energy source in just 10 years.
As world representatives prepare to meet at the United Nations headquarters this month to discuss reaching net-zero emissions, solar’s rapid rise demonstrates how the technology could offer a feasible alternative to pollution-pumping power plants.