in News Departments > New & Noteworthy
print the content item

A United Nations agency and an international policy group have issued sister reports showing investments in renewable energy (excluding large hydropower) totaled $244 billion worldwide in 2012, with developing countries reaching near parity with developed ones.

Wind power reportedly reached a record of 48.4 GW of new installed capacity in 2012 - accounting for about 39% of added renewable power capacity, followed by small-scale hydropower and solar photovoltaics (PV), each garnering approximately 26%.

New global solar PV capacity reached 100 GW in 2012, surpassing biomass to become the third largest renewable power source in operation after hydropower and wind. Total new renewable power capacity worldwide exceeded 1,470 GW in 2012, up 8.5% from 2011.

The "Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2013" report, published by the UN Environment Program (UNEP), and “Renewables 2013 Global Status Report,” released simultaneously by the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21), say last year's investments in renewable energy declined from $279 billion in 2011 due to lower solar prices and weakened markets in Europe and the U.S. However, the overall trend is up, the reports say.

A look around the globe
According to the UNEP and REN21, renewable energy investments in developing countries amounted to $112 billion in 2012 compared to $132 billion for developed countries, a difference of 18%. By comparison, renewable energy investments in 2007 were $146 billion, with spending in developed economies 2.5 times more than in developing ones.

Renewables are picking up speed across Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, with new investment in all technologies, according to the reports. The Middle East-North Africa region (MENA) and South Africa, in particular, witnessed the launch of ambitious new targets in 2012 and the emergence of policy frameworks and renewables deployment. The reports say markets, manufacturing and investment shifted increasingly toward developing countries during 2012.

According to the reports, renewables represent a rapidly growing share of energy supply in a growing number of countries and regions. Highlights include the following:

- The U.S. added more capacity from wind power than any other technology, and all renewables made up about half of total electric capacity additions over the year. However, the reports say investment was down 34% to $36 billion, mainly due to uncertainties over U.S. policy.

- In China, wind power generation increased more than that from coal and passed nuclear power output for the first time.

- In the European Union, renewables accounted for almost 70% of additions to electric capacity in 2012, coming predominately from solar PV and wind power. In 2011 (the latest data available), renewables met 20.6% of the region’s electricity consumption and 13.4% of gross final energy consumption.

- The reports say the importance of China and Europe for investments in renewables is clear: The regions accounted for 60% of world investment in 2012, even though it was the weakest year for Europe since 2009.

- In Germany, renewables accounted for 22.9% of electricity consumption (up from 20.5% in 2011), 10.4% of national heat use and 12.6% of total final energy demand. Germany saw renewables investment slip 35% to $20 billion, mainly driven by lower costs of installed solar capacity.

- The Middle East and Africa showed the highest regional growth in 2012, with investment up 228% to $12 billion.

- The reports say the brightest news from among the developed countries was Japan, where investment in renewable energy (excluding research and development) surged 73% to $16 billion, thanks largely to a boom in small-scale solar on the back of new feed-in tariffs for installations.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the UNEP says government intervention - nationally and increasingly at the local level - is essential for creating demand and sustaining momentum for renewable energy.

According to the UNEP, "Both policies and targets still play an important role in creating the conditions necessary to encourage renewable energy development and deployment. As the sector has continued to mature, revisions to historic policies have become increasingly common and a slate of new policies are beginning to emerge."

Trachte Inc._id1770
Latest Top Stories

Setting The Record Straight: How Many Birds Do Wind Turbines Really Kill?

Several peer-reviewed studies are more or less in agreement with avian mortality rates caused by wind turbines. However, one study, which is wildly off from the others, is most often cited in the media. Why?

Six Takeaways From The IRS' Start Of Construction Guidance: What You Need To Know

The IRS recently issued guidance to wind developers to further spell out what "start of construction" means. Will you be covered?

Eagle Take Permits For Wind Farms - Will They Fly?

Now that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has issued the first permit allowing the legal take of eagles, can wind developers expect more certainty in the agency's application process?

Despite 2013 Challenges, U.S. Wind Power Reaches All-Time Low Price

In a new report, the U.S. Department of Energy details the highs and lows of the country's wind industry last year, and the agency maintains that the U.S. sector remains strong.

Mexico On Pace To Set New Renewables Investment Record

A new report says the country has spent $1.3 billion on clean energy in the first half of 2014 and could end up seeing a record year. Furthermore, wind power is slated for significant growth in the region.

Renewable NRG_id1934
Tower Conference_id1965