Global renewable energy investments in 2015 smashed fossil fuel investments with a world record $286 billion invested, raising the 12-year cumulative total to $2.3 trillion.
Renewables Eclipse Fossil Fuels
These are the highlights from a new report published by the UN Environment Programme, Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2016, the report’s 10th edition. Most importantly, coal and gas-fired electricity generation drew in less than half the total investment made into the renewable energy industry. Specifically, global investment in new renewable energy capacity was $266 billion was more than double coal and gas’ estimated $130 billion.
“Renewables are becoming ever more central to our low-carbon lifestyles, and the record-setting investments in 2015 are further proof of this trend,” said Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director.
All investment in renewables — which includes new renewable energy capacity as well as early-stage technology, research & development — totaled $286 billion in 2015, around 3% higher than the previous record set back in 2011.
“Global investment in renewables capacity hit a new record in 2015, far outpacing that in fossil fuel generating capacity despite falling oil, gas, and coal prices,” said Michael Liebreich, Chairman of the Advisory Board at BNEF. “It has broadened out to a wider and wider array of developing countries, helped by sharply reduced costs and by the benefits of local power production over reliance on imported commodities.”
Developing Nations Eclipse Developed World
2015 also saw a significant milestone in the developing world, where investments in renewable energy topped investments in developed nations for the first time ever. Specifically, developing and emerging economy nations invested a total of $156 billion into renewable energy in 2015, up 19% compared to 2014, while developed nations saw their renewable energy investments drop 8% on 2014 levels, down to $130 billion.
China was, unsurprisingly, largely responsible for this growth, investing $102.9 billion, which was up 17% on its own investment numbers, and accounting for 36% of the global investment total. However, other countries are beginning to make their mark as well: India invested $10.2 billion, up 22% on its own figures; South Africa invested $4.5 billion, up 329%; Mexico invested $4 billion, up 105%; and Chile invested $3.4 billion, up 151%.
“Importantly, for the first time in 2015, investments in renewables were higher in developing countries than developed,” continued Steiner. “Access to clean, modern energy is of enormous value for all societies, but especially so in regions where reliable energy can offer profound improvements in quality of life, economic development and environmental sustainability. Continued and increased investment in renewables is not only good for people and planet, but will be a key element in achieving international targets on climate change and sustainable development.”
The report was launched last Thursday by the Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). More figures, as well as the report, can be accessed through the UN Environment Programme.