Renewables attract double the amount invested in fossil fuels last year

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Coal and gas-fired electricity attracted less than half as much as the record investment made in renewables in 2015, according to a UN report.

Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2016, the 10th edition of the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP’s) annual publication, showed that a World record $286 billion was invested in renewables last year, taking the total to $2.3 trillion over 12 years.

The amount drawn by renewables dwarfed the $130 billion invested in gas and coal power stations, while renewables also added more to global energy generation capacity than all other technologies combined last year.

Furthermore, the report showed that for the first time developing world investments were higher than in the developed world, having risen by 19 per cent compared to the previous year.

UNEP executive director Achim Steiner said: “Renewables are becoming ever more central to our low-carbon lifestyles, and the record-setting investments in 2015 are further proof of this trend. Importantly, for the first time in 2015, renewables investments were higher in developing countries than developed.”

“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.”

Renewable energy in 2015 was dominated by solar photovoltaics and wind, which together added 118GW in generating capacity, far above the previous record of 94GW set in 2014. Battery and energy storage drew increasing attention too, as they provide a solution to demand spikes and variable generation from wind and solar. Around 250MW of utility-scale electricity storage (excluding pumped hydro and lead-acid batteries) was installed worldwide, up from 160MW in 2014.

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Photo credit: minoru karamatsu from Flickr

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