working for the Climate! Job [R]evolution
the global renewable energy market
The renewable energy sector has been growing substantially over the last four years. In 2008, the increases in the installation level of both wind and solar power were particularly impressive. The total amount of renewable energy installed worldwide is reliably tracked by the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21). Its latest global status report (2009) shows how the technologies have grown.
The global installed capacity of renewable energy at the end of 2008 was 1,128 GW. Of this, large hydro power made up around three quarters and wind approximately 11%. The new capacity commissioned in 2008 alone amounted to roughly 40 GW (excluding large hydro power), with the highest growth in wind power.
The top five countries for new renewable energy in 2008 were China, the United States, Germany, Spain and India. China doubled its wind power capacity for the fifth year in a row. The growth of gridconnected solar PV in Spain was five times the level in 2007.
making the switch For the first time in 2008 both the United States and the European Union added more capacity from renewable energy sources than from conventional generation (including gas, coal, oil and nuclear). By the end of the year renewable energy made up just 6.2% of the world’s total installed energy capacity and 4.4% of generation. If large hydropower is included the total rises to 18%. However, new installations of renewable energy made up one quarter of the total fresh capacity, compared to just 10% in 2004. If large hydropower is included the total for the renewable sector increases to more than half of all newly commissioned capacity.
Total global investment in renewable energy was $120 billion in 2008, at least four times more than in 2004. The United States contributed around 20% of this total. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), total new investment in developed countries was $82.3 billion, and $36.6 billion in developing countries during 2008, an increase of 37% on 2007 levels. For the first time, investment in renewable energy (including large hydropower) was greater than that in fossil fuel technologies by a margin of about $10 billion.
In 2008 there was crisis in the world’s financial system and a number of banks, mortgage lenders and insurance companies failed. For renewable energy this meant there was less finance available for new projects. The full effects are not yet known, but early indications suggest that renewable energy has weathered the crisis better than most sectors. Wind energy in particular seems to have been relatively unaffected. In several developed countries, economic stimulus packages have included incentives for large scale renewable energies and energy efficiency programmes.
policies and incentives The world policy landscape includes an increasing number of measures to encourage renewable energy. Examples include new solar PV subsidy programmes introduced in Australia, China, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United States. New laws and policy provisions for renewable energy have also been adopted in many developing countries, including Brazil, Chile, Egypt, Mexico, the Philippines, 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.
The drivers of renewable energy are climate change, 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; UNEP predicted, for example, that the price of solar panels would fall by 43% during 2009 This economic resilience, combined with more and more firm policies mandates requiring a commitment to renewables, such as feed-in tariffs and renewable portfolio standards, mean that renewable energy will continue to grow.