11 June 2012
Renewable energy continues to grow strongly
Renewable energy continued to grow strongly last year in all end-use sectors – power, heating and cooling as well as transport - and supplied nearly 17 percent of global final energy consumption, shows a new status report. Stable renewable energy support policies continued to be a driving force behind the increasing shares of renewable energy. But a transition to renewable energy will clearly require a rapid further upscaling of investments.
The 2012 edition of Renewables Global Status Report (GSR) was published by the REN21 Secreteriat. The report highlights for yet another year the latest impressive trends in renewable energy policy, market and industry developments.
Today, 118 countries, more than half of which are developing countries, have renewable energy targets in place and 109 countries have policies to support power generation from renewable energy.
A main driver propelling renewable energy policies and development is their potential to create jobs. Globally, an estimated 5 million people work directly or indirectly in the renewable energy industry.
Investment in renewable energy increased to a record-high of USD257 billion, or USD292 billion including solar hot water and hydropower investments.
“At this point it time, there is complete uncertainty about the outcome of the Rio+20 conference. Right before the Rio Summit, however, there is certainty about renewable energy development,” says Christine Lins, Executive Secretary of REN21.
“Despite all these positive trends, it will be crucial to ensure stable policy frameworks for renewable energy as we have seen the disastrous effects of stop-and-go policies which are not only detrimental for the renewables industry, but also strongly unsettle investors.”
”Yet, a transition to renewable energy will clearly require a rapid further upscaling of investments,” she says in REN21 website.
Measuring global progress in renewable energyThe 2012 GSR places a special focus on rural renewable energy by highlighting the main trends in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The perspectives provided in the GSR are further detailed in the REN21 Renewables Interactive Map, where country specific renewable energy developments are highlighted.
The report also provides a sound basis for measuring global progress in renewable energy, which is particularly relevant in view the UN Secretary General's initative Sustainable Energy for All that stipulates the doubling of the share of renewables together with energy efficiency improvements, and energy access for all by 2030.
“Although there is still a long way to go to provide energy access for all, today more people than ever before derive energy from renewables as capacity continues to grow, prices continue to fall, and shares of global energy from renewables continue to increase,” says Mohamed El-Ashry in the report's foreword.
More than 400 authors, researchers, contributors and reviewers have contributed to this year’s edition which features many new aspects such as a reference to the complementarities of renewable energy and energy efficiency, a sidebar on the energy-water nexus as well as a focus on rural energy and energy access with renewables in developing countries.
Renewables moving beyond “niche” statusThe findings in the 2012 GSR speak to the cumulating effect of steady growth in renewable energy markets, support policies and investment over the past years. In 2011:
* Renewable sources supplied 16.7 percent of global final energy consumption where the share of modern renewables increased while the share of traditional biomass slightly decline;
* 118 countries implemented renewable energy targets with more than half in developing countries;
* Investment in renewables increased 17 percent to a record USD257 billion, despite a widening sovereign debt crisis in Europe and rapidly falling prices for renewable power equipment. Net investment in renewable power exceeded that for fossil fuels;
* Photovoltaic module prices dropped by 50 percent and onshore wind turbines by close to 10 percent bringing to price of the leading renewable power technologies closer to grid parity with fossil fuels such as coal and gas;
* Despite the difficult economic times, the EU installed more renewable energy capacity than ever before. For the fourth year running renewables accounted for more than half of all newly installed electricity capacity.
These are just a few of the trends found in the GSR 2012 that illustrate the significant and rapidly growing share of renewables in energy markets, industrial policy and investments, moving renewable beyond “niche” status.
The 2012 edition of REN21's Renewables Global Status Report was launched on 11 June together with its sister publication UNEP’s Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment (GTR).
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