Rhein on Energy and Climate

Just in time for the Rio+ 20 Conference on sustainable development UNEP has published the latest data on investments in renewable power in 2011.

These paint an overall positive picture:

  • Investments have increased by 17 per cent over 2010, despite a stagnating global economy.
  • Solar power accounted for roughly two thirds of the investments, continuing the trend of the past years and reflecting the falling costs of PV modules that have halved in 2011.
  • Investments in wind parks have declined, essentially due to uncertainties and planning delays, especially for off-shore installations in Europe.
  • All other types of renewable energy have attracted only marginal investments.Biogas installations in Europe do not play a significant role at global scale. Only geo-thermal holds promises, especially in the East African Rift Valley. Kenya aims at covering half of its 2018 power demand from geothermal power plants.
  • The geographical distribution of renewable energy investments has changed substantially. Asia, USA and the Pacific have replaced Europe as the leading investors. In 2010 developed countries and developing countries held roughly half of the global investments in renewables. China and USA accounted each for about one fifth of global investments.
  • These are positive signs. Investments have become less dependent on high feed-in tariffs. Indeed, PV and wind energy are coming closer to grid-parity with fossil electricity, due to the impressive lowering of costs and prices.This progress should not disguise the fact that fossil energy sources, above all coal and gas, continue to cover more than four fifths of global electricity demand. Humanity still has a long, long way to go before reaching the stage of zero C02 emissions!

    But hopefully the participants of the Rio Conference next week will applaud developed and developing countries going renewable, where governments put in place effective policies.

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