Figures published earlier this month by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have shown that global investment in new renewable energy capacity between 2010 and 2019 is on course to exceed $2.6 trillion, led by the solar industry which is expected to end the decade with more gigawatts of power capacity installed than any other generation technology.
The UNEP published its Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2019 report earlier in the month, released ahead of the UN Global Climate Action Summit which is set to be held on September 23. The report shows that investment is on track to have “roughly quadrupled” renewable energy capacity over the decade, from 414 gigawatts (GW) at the end of 2009 to just over 1,650 GW by year’s end.
Most impressive is the role of solar power over the past decade, which will have drawn half, or around $1.3 trillion, of the total investment in new renewable energy capacity, and grown from 25 GW worth of capacity at the beginning of 2010 to an expected capacity of 663 GW by the close of 2019.
“Investing in renewable energy is investing in a sustainable and profitable future, as the last decade of incredible growth in renewables has shown,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme. “But we cannot afford to be complacent. Global power sector emissions have risen about 10 per cent over this period. It is clear that we need to rapidly step up the pace of the global switch to renewables if we are to meet international climate and development goals.”
Looking at 2018 specifically, total investment in renewable energy capacity reached $272.9 billion, which was 12% down over the previous year, but nevertheless the ninth successive year in which capacity investment exceeded $200 billion and the fifth successive year above $250 billion. In 2018, this capacity investment helped lead to new renewable energy capacity additions of 167 GW, up from 160 in 2017.
“Sharp falls in the cost of electricity from wind and solar over recent years have transformed the choice facing policy-makers,” said Jon Moore, Chief Executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which provides the data and analysis for the Global Trends report. “These technologies were always low-carbon and relatively quick to build. Now, in many countries around the world, either wind or solar is the cheapest option for electricity generation.”