Half a million solar panels were installed every day in 2015. - Grist


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Bright lights, big milestones

Half a million solar panels were installed every day in 2015.

According to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), renewable energy, mostly solar and wind, accounted for more than half of all new electric capacity added in the world last year, a 15 percent jump from 2014. Globally, there is now more renewable power capacity than coal power capacity.

Clean energy growth was especially high in China, which was responsible for about 40 percent of all new clean energy capacity. Get this: In China in 2015, two wind turbines were installed every hour.

This surge in renewables, according to the IEA, can be attributed to policy changes, lowered costs, and improvements in technology.

So renewable energy hit some big milestones last year, but it’s still just the beginning: The IEA — which has been accused of underestimating the growth of renewables — expects 28 percent of electricity to come from renewables by 2021, up from 23 percent today.

“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 IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol. “However, even these higher expectations remain modest compared with the huge untapped potential of renewables.”

So let’s keep this moving, folks.