Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Renewable energy use surged worldwide last year

18 Jun 2012

Renewable energy reached a big milestone in 2011, surging to a record $257 billion in global investments, the UN Environment Program announced, up 17% from 2010 and a sixfold increase over the past seven years. The figure also marks a breakthrough for the solar power industry, which drew nearly twice as much investment as wind power last year, according to reports from the UN and the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century Total solar investments rose 52%, to $147 billion, in 2011, the reports say. While China has led the world in renewable-energy investments for three years, it increasingly faces competition from around the world, especially from the United States.

Chinese renewable-energy investments rose 17% to $52 billion in 2011. In the US, a 57% surge that pushed investments to $51 billion. The UK, Spain and Italy also had investment booms, with respective growth rates of 59, 45 and 43%, although their totals remain relatively small. The most extreme change came in India, whose 62% rise to $12 billion represents "the fastest investment expansion of any large renewables market in the world", UNEP reports.

This is mostly good news for the renewables industry, particularly solar, but the UNEP and REN21 reports have some dark spots, too. While $257 billion is a new record for global investments in renewables, the 17% increase is down substantially from the 37% growth recorded in 2010. Investments declined in some countries including Germany (down 12%) and much of the Middle East and Africa (down 18%). "Policy uncertainty created by the Arab Spring delayed some projects", UNEP notes, "but a number of important initiatives did still progress".

Read More…