floating solar pv testbed in singapore
The one-hectare floating solar PV test bed on Tengeh Reservoir. A range of solar cells and flotation devices are being tested for environmental impact and efficiency. Image: Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore

The year 2016 saw renewable energy gain greater momentum, with solar shining brighter than ever. Earlier in the year, a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report showed investments in green power have jumped far ahead of investments in fossil fuels with solar increasingly becoming a cheaper alternative.

Elon Musk made global headlines with the launch of Tesla’s solar roof tiles. While in the UK, British prime minister Theresa May approved the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant – the country’s first new nuclear power plant in two decades – to the great dismay of critics who called the project “flawed and expensive”.

The election of Donald Trump, a known climate denier, as president of the United States was the big surprise of the year. His election had an immediate effect on oil and gas stocks as he has vowed to revive the US coal, oil and gas industry.

Here are the top five energy stories in 2016:

1. The Trump effect on energy

On November 8, Donald John Trump was elected 45th president of the United States of America. His surprise election happened while world leaders were gathered in Marrakesh, Morocco to discuss the implementation of the historic Paris Agreement on climate change.

Trump has vowed to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement and to “fire up” the US coal, oil and gas industries, to the dismay of environmentalists and governments around the world who fear that he will stifle any progress made on climate action over recent years. The president-elect has also picked climate sceptics and oil industry executives for key positions in his administration.

Industry observers however have sought to assuage fears about his impact, pointing to a global momentum in renewable energy investment and the commitment of all other UN members to the Paris Agreement as reasons to stay optimistic that the world will continue to decarbonise the global economy.

2. Global investment in renewable energy reaches new highs

Latest figures by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, published in a report called Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2016, showed that investments…