2015 was the year of clean energy with worldwide investment and generation skyrocketing, shows the new report launched by REN21
It was an extraordinary year for renewable energy. The upsurge of solar, wind and hydropower undoubtedly smashed global records in 2015 with the largest global capacity additions seen so far. Next to growing markets and investments, 2015 saw continued progress and improvement of renewable energy technologies, increased use of smart grid, as well as progress in energy storage development. Those are the findings of a report launched by the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21).
It states that 147 Gigawatts of renewable electricity were added to the market in 2015. This is roughly the equivalent of the whole of Africa’s generating capacity and the largest amount of annual increase.
Solar power leading sector in clean energy investment
International investments in clean energy reached 286 billion US Dollars (255 bn Euros, 198 bn pounds) last year, with solar energy making up for 56% of the total. Wind energy accounted for 38%. Solar power was again the leading sector by far in terms of money committed, accounting for $161 billion in investments. That is 12% up over 2014. The report also stated that more than twice the amount of money was spent in renewable energy than in fossil fuels worldwide.
Over eight million people are now working in renewable energy, making global clean energy employment rise by 5%, according to the report. Again Solar photovoltaics and biofuels provided the largest numbers of jobs in the industry.
Emerging economies outspent richer nations, says REN21
For the first time ever, emerging economies have spent more than richer nations on renewable power. China accounted for a third of the global total, whilst smaller countries such as Jamaica, Uruguay, Honduras and Mauritania made the highest clean energy investments, relative to their GDP. They were closely followed by African and Latin American countries.
There is, however, still high potential for industrial countries to improve and expand their clean energy investments. As those countries had to face the withdrawal of policy supports, investment stagnated. Despite this, renewables still provide a splendid 44% of the EUs electricity capacity.
Overall, Christine Lins, REN21’s chief, said about the report’s findings: “What is truly remarkable about these results is that they were achieved at a time when fossil fuel prices were at historic lows, and renewables remained at a significant disadvantage in terms of government subsidies.”