Renewables set investment record, again

Renewables set investment record, again
Illustration (Image: flickr/Olearys)

The new ‘Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2016’ report states the investments in renewable energy have reached a new world record with total of $286 billion invested last year.

The 10th edition of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) annual report, launched by the Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) states that all investments in renewables, including early-stage technology and R&D as well as spending on new capacity, totaled $286 billion in 2015, some 3% higher than the previous record in 2011.

For the first time, the report states, developing world investments in renewables topped those of developed nations in 2015, with $156 billion, up 19% compared to 2014, in contrast to developed countries with $130 billion, down 8% from 2014.

Much of these record-breaking developing world investments took place in China, up 17% to $102.9 billion, or 36% of the world total.

Other developing countries showing increased investment included India (up 22% to $10.2 billion), South Africa (up 329% to $4.5 billion), Mexico (up 105% to $4 billion), and Chile (up 151% to $3.4 billion).

Among developed countries, investment in Europe was down 21%, from $62 billion in 2014 to $48.8 billion in 2015, the continent’s lowest figure for nine years despite record investments in offshore wind projects, according to the report.

The United States was up 19% to $44.1 billion, and in Japan investment was much the same as the previous year at $36.2 billion.

The press release, accompanying the publication of the report, stated:

The shift in investment towards developing countries and away from developed economies may be attributed to several factors: China’s dash for wind and solar, fast-rising electricity demand in emerging countries, the reduced cost of choosing renewables to meet that demand, sluggish economic growth in the developed world and cutbacks in subsidy support in Europe.

The 134 GW of renewable power was added worldwide in 2015, compared to 106 GW in 2014 and 87 GW in 2013.

However, the renewables, excluding large hydro, still represent a small minority of the world’s total installed power capacity amounting to about one sixth, or 16.2%, but that figure continues to climb – up from 15.2% in 2014.

Meanwhile actual electricity generated by those renewables was 10.3% of global generation in 2015, up from 9.1% in 2014.

In contrast to the renewable energy investments, the coal and gas-fired electricity generation last year drew less than half those of renewables, with the estimated $130 billion invested.

Note: All figures for renewables in this report include wind, solar, biomass and waste-to-energy, biofuels, geothermal, marine and small hydro, but exclude large hydro-electric projects of more than 50 MW.

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