After two years of decline, renewable energy investment rebound in 2014, despite challenges after crude oil prices fell sharply, a report from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
In total $270 billion (£182bn) was invested in and committed to renewables last year, with major solar installations China and Japan and record offshore wind projects in Europe aiding the uptick. The figure marks the first annual increases in investments in three years and falls just 3% below the all-time record of $279 billion (£188bn) set in 2011. The fall in investment in 2012 and 2013 was attributed to falling technology costs.
The Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investments report, which was prepares by the Frankfurt School-UNEP Centre, and Bloomberg New Energy Finance, also notes that 103 gigawatts of generating capacity was added around the world, making 2014 the best year ever for newly install capacity. Falling technology costs, particularly in solar and wind, meant that every dollar invested in clean energy sources brought significantly more generating capacity.
Wind, solar, biomass and waste-to-power, geothermal, small hydro and marine power contributed an estimated 9.1% of world electricity generation in 2014, up from 8.5% in the previous year. This means that the world’s electricity system emitted 1.3 gigatonnes less than it would have.
Achim Steiner, UN under secretary and executive director of UNEP, said, “Once again in 2014, renewables made up nearly half of the net power capacity added worldwide.
“These climate friendly energy technologies are now an indispensible component of the global energy mix and their importance will only increase as markets mature, technology prices continue to fall and the need to rein in carbon emissions becomes ever more urgent.”
One of the features highlighted in the toper, a surge in investment into new markets in developing countries, where investments increased by 6% to $131.3 billion (£88bn).
Steiner added, “The growing penetration of renewable generation in the world’s developing economies is one of the important and encouraging aspects of the 2014 report.”
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