Global investments in renewable energy rebounded strongly last year, registering a solid 17% increase to $270 Billion in 2014 after two years of declines and brushing aside the challenge from sharply lower crude oil prices.
According to UNEP’s 9th annual Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2015, prepared by the Frankfurt School – UNEP collaborating Centre for Climate and Sustainable Energy Finance (the Centre) and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) the main cause were major expansions of solar installations in China and Japan and record investments in offshore wind projects.
A continuing sharp decline in technology costs – particularly in solar but also in wind – means that every dollar invested in renewable energy bought significantly more generating capacity in 2014. The 103GW of capacity added by new renewable energy sources last year compares to 86GW in 2013, 89GW in 2012 and 81GW in 2011 and made 2014 the best year ever for newly installed capacity.
Wind, solar, biomass and waste-to-power, geothermal, small hydro and marine power contributed to an estimated 9.1% of world electricity generation in 2014, up from 8.5% in 2013. This meant that last year the world electricity system emitted 1.3 gigatonnes of CO2 – roughly twice the emissions of the world’s airline industry – less than it would have if that 9.1% had been produced by the same fossil-dominated mix generating the other 90.9% of world power.