RENEWABLE ENERGY SHOWS
According to the latest report, global investments in renewables have increased to a record US$211 billion - about one-third more than the $160 billion invested in 2009, and more than five times the amount invested in 2004.
The REN21 Renewables 2011 Global Status Report, which was commissioned by REN21 and produced in collaboration with a global network of research partners, shows that the renewable energy sector continues to perform well despite continuing economic recession, incentive cuts, and low natural-gas prices.
In 2010, renewable energy (RE) supplied an estimated 16% of global final energy consumption and delivered close to 20% of global electricity production. Renewable capacity now comprises about a quarter of total global power-generating capacity. Including all hydropower (estimated 30 GW added in 2010), RE accounted for approximately 50% of total added power generating capacity in 2010. Existing solar water and space heating capacity also increased by an estimated 25 gigawatts-thermal (GWth), or about 16%.
"The global performance of renewable energy despite headwinds has been a positive constant in turbulent times", says Mohamed El-Ashry, Chairman of REN21's Steering Committee. "Today, more people than ever before derive energy from renewables as capacity continues to grow, prices continue to fall, and shares of global energy from renewable energy continue to increase."
Global solar Photovoltaics (PV) production and markets more than doubled in comparison with 2009, thanks to government incentive programmes and the continued fall in PV module prices. Germany installed more PV in 2010 than the entire world added in 2009. PV markets in Japan and the U.S. almost doubled relative to 2009.
Globally, wind power added the most new capacity (followed by hydropower and solar PV), but for the first time ever, Europe added more PV than wind capacity.
Renewable energy policies continue to be the main driver behind renewable energy growth. By early 2011, at least 119 countries had some type of policy target or renewable support policy at the national level, more than doubling from 55 countries in early 2005. And more than half of these countries are in the developing world.
At least 95 countries now have some type of policy to support renewable power generation. Money invested in renewable energy companies, and in utility-scale generation and biofuel projects increased to $143 billion, with developing countries surpassing developed economies for the first time, as shown in the GSR's recently released companion report, UNEP Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2011. China attracted $48.5 billion, or more than a third of the global total, but other developing countries also experienced major developments in terms of policies, investments, market trends, and manufacturing.
Beyond Asia, significant advances are also seen in many Latin American countries, and at least 20 countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa have active renewable energy markets, the report says.
The US, Germany and Italy were still the top three developed countries leading the way in investment in small-scale power projects and R&D during 2010.
A highlight of this year’s report is that most of the future growth in energy demand is expected to occur in developing countries and this increased RE activity is very encouraging. "More and more of the world's people are gaining access to energy services through renewables, not only to meet their basic needs, but also to enable them to develop economically", says El-Ashry.
Renewable energy in even the most remote areas is ensuring that more of the world's people are gaining access to basic energy services, including lighting and communications, cooking, heating and cooling, and water pumping, while also generating economic growth through services such as motive power.
MORE FROM THE REPORT:
- The top five countries for non-hydro renewable power capacity were the United States, China, Germany, Spain, and India.
- In the United States, renewables accounted for about 10.9% of U.S. domestic primary energy production (compared with nuclear's 11.3%), an increase of 5.6% over 2009.
- China led the world in the installation of wind turbines and solar thermal systems and was the top hydropower producer in 2010.
- Renewables accounted for about 26% of China's total installed electric capacity in 2010, 18% of generation, and more than 9% of final energy supply.
- Brazil produces virtually all of the world's sugar-derived ethanol, and has been adding new hydropower, biomass and wind power plants, as well as solar heating systems.
- In the European Union, renewables represented an estimated 41% of newly installed electric capacity.
- The EU exceeded its 2010 targets for wind, solar PV, concentrating solar thermal power, and heating/heat pumps. Countries including Finland, Germany, Spain, and Taiwan raised their targets, and South Africa, Guatemala, and India, among others, introduced new ones.