Amid a spectacular price plunge in the capital cost of renewable energies, solar attracted nearly twice as much investment as wind, driving the renewable energy sector to yet another record-breaking year in 2011, albeit one beset with challenges for the industry, according to two new reports on renewable energy trends released on Monday by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21).
Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2012 is the fifth edition of the UNEP report, based on data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, and has become the standard reference for global clean energy investment figures. This year it shows that despite an increasingly tough competitive landscape for manufacturers, total investment in renewable power and fuels last year increased by 17 percent to a record $257 billion, a six-fold increase on the 2004 figure and 94 percent higher than the total in 2007, the year before the world financial crisis.
Although last year’s 17 percent increase was significantly smaller than the 37 percent growth recorded in 2010, it was achieved at a time of rapidly falling prices for renewable energy equipment and severe pressure on fiscal budgets in the developed world.
The REN21 Renewables 2012 Global Status Report, notes that during 2011 renewables continued to grow strongly in all end-use sectors – power, heating and cooling and transport. Renewable sources have grown to supply 16.7 percent of global energy consumption. Of that, the share provided by traditional biomass has declined slightly while the share sourced from modern renewable technologies has risen.
In 2011, renewable energy technologies continued to expand into new markets: around 50 countries installed wind power capacity, and solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity moved rapidly into new regions and countries. Solar hot water collectors are used by more than 200 million households as well as in many public and commercial buildings worldwide.
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