Renewable Energy Hit Record Levels in 2015

A new report confirms that 2015 was a record-breaking year for renewable energy in which 147 Gigawatts of renewable electricity came online.

That figure represents the largest annual increase ever recorded, and is due in part to the $286 billion invested in renewables. In fact, in 2015 almost twice as much money was spent on renewable energy, like solar and wind power, than fossil fuels like gas-fired power stations — only $130 billion.

This information comes as part of the Renewables Global Status Report authored by the global renewable energy policy network known as REN21. 

“The fact that we had 147GW of capacity, mainly of wind and solar is a clear indication that these technologies are cost competitive (with fossil fuels),” explained Christine Lins, executive secretary of REN21. ”They are the preference for many countries and more and more utilities and investors and that is a very positive signal.”

The report highlights another factor that may have made a difference in 2015: the level of interest and cooperation in the banking sector.

Investment vehicles, like green bonds and crowdfunding, meant that renewables could flourish. In addition, the report says that mainstream financing has invested for higher yield even in the face of higher risks. For campaigners this is a significant win. In effect, it shows any fears that investors won’t back renewables to be unfounded.

Furthermore, the report highlights how the renewable energy sector has helped both directly and indirectly increase employment rates. In total, the report estimates that 8.1 million jobs were generated by renewable energy in 2015. Large-scale hydropower also contributed 1.3 million jobs. These figures will likely increase as investment continues to pour in.

However, critics have pointed out that the biggest investors in clean energy are not the most economically prosperous nations — far from it. The biggest spenders when GDP is taken into account are countries like Mauritania, Honduras and Jamaica.

Even when accounting for differences in economy size and other factors, developing countries like China are far outspending countries like the United States and the European Union. China, for example, accounted for a third of the total global spending on renewables in 2015.

As a result, while Europe to emerge from last year’s review relatively well, it can’t afford to become complacent –particularly in the case of the U.K., where government subsidies for solar energy have been slashed and could impact renewables growth in 2016.

The Guardian quotes Jean-François Fauconnier of the group Climate Action Network Europe: “The EU is at risk of missing the ongoing energy revolution and lagging behind other leading economies for decades.” Fauconnier insists that the E.U. must use the report in its own review later this year.

Obviously the future of U.S. renewable growth will hinge on the results of the presidential elections. For instance, Republican nominee Donald Trump pledged to slash the COP21 agreement and appears likely to invest heavily in fossil fuel use.

Certainly, the report isn’t all positive, either.

Despite the continued rise in total capacity of renewable heating and cooling technologies, the global growth rate actually declined in 2015. This was due in part to low oil prices. And while interest appears to be rising in renewable cooling systems, the actual rate of implementation remains low.

Renewable energy continues to offer exciting prospects for greener transport initiatives, but overall policy support in the form of government legislation and subsidy remains low, which will, in turn, inhibit outside investment and growth. The report specifically notes that while most world governments are looking at biofuels, they aren’t giving enough attention to second generation or new fuels.

Despite this, the report finds a hopeful sign that renewables are on the up: fossil fuel prices are at a historic low but clean energy still thrived in 2015.

While there is certainly much more to do in terms of fulfilling the promises made at the Paris climate talks last December, 2015′s figures show that clean energy is gaining traction.

Photo Credit: Anna Jimenez Calaf/Unsplash

69 comments

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallusabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Charles Brexel Sr.
Charles Brexel Sr.about a year ago

* Those who still support nat gas pipes; fracking; nat gas, nuke or coal power; coal mining; Gulf of Mex, Arctic or Atlantic Ocean, any offshore or any new onshore drilling are stuck in the past

* It is perfectly clear that every country in world, many thousands of companies and scores of billions of investment dollars are rushing to install only solar, wind or geotherm - there are absolutely no excuses (NONE) for installing any nat gas pipes, nat gas, nuke or coal power at all and no excuses (NONE) for supporting fracking anywhere

* In 2015, about 90% of all installed, new power in world was solar and wind

* As of 1/1/16 and before, solar and wind are now the PREFERRED OPTIONS for new installs around the world - and that is for 9 out of every 10 new power plants

* Solar and wind are already cheaper than nat gas or coal power - and they will continue to get cheaper for 10 yrs or more

* It is perfectly clear that every country in world, many thousands of companies and scores of billions of investment dollars are rushing to make or use all-electric cars, vans, SUVs, buses, trucks and trains

* It is perfectly clear that we will have many hundreds of thousands of new, 200( ) mile range all-electrics on the road in 2017 and 18 when the affordable 17 Chevy Bolt, 17 Honda Clarity, 18 Tesla Model 3, new 18 Nissan Leaf, new 18 Ford, new 18 Hyundai SUV and many other manufacturers' 200( ) range all-electrics will be massively bought

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william Miller
william Millerabout a year ago

awesome

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Melania Padilla
Melania Pabout a year ago

Awesome, I hope the trend just goes up!!

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Margaret B.
Margaret Babout a year ago

This is good news and gives me hope. Thank you.

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeldabout a year ago

All is not so rosy on the green front.

http://www.cfact.org/2016/06/13/britain-braces-for-blackouts-and-pricey-power-due-to-green-energy/

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Cathy B.
Cathy Babout a year ago

Good News. Thank you for sharing!

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Cela V.
Cela Vabout a year ago

tyfs

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Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

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