The renewable power sector has been growing substantially for the last four years. In 2008, the increases in the installation of wind and solar power were particularly impressive.The amount of renewable energy installed worldwide is reliably tracked by the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21stCentury (REN21). Their Global Status Report 2009 shows how the technologies have grown.
The total installed capacity of renewable energy at the end of 2008was 1,128 GW. At this point, large hydro power made up around three quarters of the total and wind approximately 11%.The new installed capacities of renewable energy in 2008 alone added up toat least 40 GW (excluding large hydro power), with the highest growth in wind power.
making the switch For the first time in 2008 both the United Statesand the European Union added more capacity from renewable energy than from conventional sources (including gas, coal, oil and nuclear). At the end of 2008, renewable energy made up just 6.2% of the world’s total energy capacity and 4.4% of generation, and 18% iflarge hydropower is included in the total. However, the new installations of renewable energy in 2008 made up one quarter of the total new nameplate capacity1 compared to just 10% in 2004. If large hydropower is included in the equation, 2008 saw more than half of total added capacity from the renewable sector2.
investment Total global investment in renewable energy was $120 billion in 20083, at least four times more than in 2004. The United States contributed around 20 % of this total. According to UNEP, total new investment in developed countries was $82.3 billion, and $36.6billion in developing countries during 2008, a respective fall of 1.7%,but a gain of 37% on 2007 levels4. For the first time, the investment in renewable energy (including large hyrdropower) was greater than theinvestment in fossil-fuel technology, by about $10 billion.
renewable energy and the economic crisis In 2008, there was acrisis in the world’s financial system and a number of banks, mortgage lenders and insurance companies failed. For renewable energy this meantthere was less finance available to new projects. The full effects of the crisis are not yet known for renewable energy, but early indicators seem to show that it has weathered the crisis better than most. Wind energy seems to have been relatively unaffected. In several developed countries,economic stimulus packages have included incentives for large-scale renewable energies and energy efficiency programs.
policies and incentives The world policy landscape includes evermore measures to encourage renewable energy. Examples includenew solar PV support programs adopted in Australia, China, Japan,Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United States. New laws andpolicy provisions for renewable energy were adopted in manydeveloping countries, including Brazil, Chile, Egypt, Mexico, thePhilippines, South Africa, Syria, and Uganda. Several hundred cities and local governments around the world are actively planning or implementing renewable energy policies and frameworks linked to carbon dioxide emissions reduction.
other indicators The drivers of renewable energy are climatechange, energy insecurity, fossil fuel depletion and new technology development. The price of many of these technologies is falling due to the global supply-demand equation, for example UNEP predictsthe price of solar panels will fall by 43% in 20095. This economic resilience combined with more and more firm mandates like feed-in tariffs and renewable portfolio standards mean that renewable energy will continue to grow.
This report used the projections and scenarios of Greenpeace’s Energy[R]evolution to calculate indicative numbers for employment levels ifhalf the world’s energy provision came from renewable resources.
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