May 2 (UPI) -- While growth in the pace of renewable energy deployment is impressive, other parts of the sector are not up to par, a consortium of industry organizations said.
Delegates from groups like the International Energy Agency, the International Renewable Energy Agency and the World Health Organization met Wednesday in Portugal to review progress on global energy goals. A report from the conference said that while some sectors like renewable energy were showing impressive gains, other sustainable development goals like universal electricity were lagging behind.
Since the beginning of the decade, China set the standard for renewable energy, accounting for 30 percent of the growth globally by 2015. For the British economy, renewable energy as a share of final consumption grew by 1 percent every year since 2010, more than five times the pace of the rest of the world.
Adnan Amin, the director general of IRENA, said technological improvements and lower costs support advancements in renewable energy development.
"At the same time, this tracking report is an important signal that we must be more ambitious in harnessing the power of renewable energy to meet sustainable development and climate goals, and take more deliberate action to achieve a sustainable energy future," he said in a statement.
With global policies as they are, renewable energy should make up about 21 percent of the global mix by 2030, short of what's outlined in the sustainable development goals.
On metrics like universal electricity, the report found that about 13 percent of the world's population, or around 1 billion people, still don't have access to a reliable source of electricity. By region, sub-Saharan Africa and parts of south and central Asia are at the bottom, with 87 percent without power.
Elsewhere, for the ratio of energy used per unit of gross domestic product - a metric that gauges energy intensity for an economy - the five-year average for the years ending in 2015 showed a decline of 2.2 percent. That's well short of the 2.6 percent outlined in sustainable development goals.
"It is clear that the energy sector must be at the heart of any effort to lead the world on a more sustainable pathway," IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said.
Global energy demand growth increased last year by 2.1 percent from 2016. With the global economy accelerating, that was more than twice as high as the rate from 2016-17. In part because of the increase in sales of large sport-utility vehicles and trucks in the world's leading economies, oil demand grew more than 1.6 percent last year. That's more than twice the 10-year average.