Last year saw more new installed renewable energy capacity around the world than ever before in history. Global investments in renewable energy increased by 17 percent in 2014 reaching $270 billion. Despite the drastic collapse of oil prices, the total amount of new installed renewable capacity in 2014 was 103 GW. The 2014 totals compare very favorable to the 86 GW generated in 2013 and 80.5 GW generated in 2011. These are some of the findings in the United Nations Environment Program’s 9th annual report on Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment which was released at the end of March. The report was prepared by Frankfurt School–UNEP Collaborating Centre and Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Driven by some remarkable innovations in finance and grid operations, renewables accounted for nearly half of new net power capacity worldwide last year. Currently renewables account for just over 9 percent of the world’s total electricity generation. This amounts to emissions savings equivalent to 1.3 gigatonnes of CO2.
The solar and wind sectors are attracting investors due to improved performance, declining costs and low risk. Total global solar investment was $150 billion in 2014 that is up 29 percent over 2013, while wind energy reached $100 billion representing an increase of 11 percent over 2013. A total of of 49 GW of wind power was installed in 2014 and 46 GW worth of new solar PV capacity.
Both distributed and utility scale solar continue to perform well around the world. Investment was up in both the developing and the developed world.With a total investment of more than $83 billion, China was the world largest investor in renewable energy in 2014. This represents an increase of more than 33 percent over 2013. With a total investment of more than 38 billion the United States was the world’s second largest investor in renewable energy last year. Japan followed close behind to capture the third position with an investment of $35 billion in 2014. European growth was driven largely by offshore wind projects receiving more than $18 billion in investment support. In countries like Germany, Denmark and Spain the penetration levels exceed 25 percent.
Venture capital (VC) fund investments in the clean energy sector increased to $1 billion representing 39 percent more than in 2013. Renewable energy R&D investment was $11.7 billion which is 2 percent more than the year before. Government investment in renewable energy R&D was $5.7 billion while private sector investment was $6.6 billion. Private equity investments in renewables was $1.7 billion in 2014 up 20 percent over 2013.
The stock prices for publicly listed renewable energy companies rose 43 percent in 2014 and 100 percent between 2012 and 2014. Asset-based financing for utility-scale renewable energy rose 10 percent last year to reach almost $171 billion while small distributed capacity rose 34 percent to reach more than $73 billion.
Growth of Renewable Energy in 2015 and Beyond
Moving Towards 100% Renewables in the US
Renewable Energy in Africa and the Middle East
The ABCs of Latin American Renewable Energy (Argentina, Brazil and Costa Rica)
Asian Renewable Energy (China, India Japan, South Korea)
Australia Can Go 100% Renewable Due to Falling Costs
Canada Could Get All of Its Electricity from Renewables
Europe Moving Towards 100 percent Renewable Energy
2014 Year End Review: Renewable Energy Achievements