Last year renewable energy (excluding large hydroelectric generation) accounted for 55 percent of the new electric generation added across the world. It also was the biggest year for installations yet, as the world added 138.5 gigawatts of new renewable energy capacity. That’s up 8 percent from the 127.5 GWs of renewable energy capacity brought online in 2015.
At the same time investments in renewable energy fell 23 percent in 2016 to $241.6 billion from $312.2 billion in 2015, according to Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2017, a new report from UN Environment, the Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre, and Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The report also stated that global investments in renewables haven’t been that low since 2013.
"Ever-cheaper clean tech provides a real opportunity for investors to get more for less," said Erik Solheim, executive director of UN Environment. "This is exactly the kind of situation, where the needs of profit and people meet, that will drive the shift to a better world for all."
Indeed, the report found that the average cost spent on new each megawatt for solar photovoltaics and wind fell by over 10 percent in 2016. "The question always used to be 'will renewables ever be grid competitive?'," said Michael Liebreich, chairman of BNEF’s Advisory Board. "Well, after the dramatic cost reductions of the past few years, unsubsidized wind and solar can provide the lowest cost new electrical power in an increasing number of countries, even in the developing world—sometimes by a factor of two."
The amount of new solar power installed last year rose to 75 gigawatts globally, despite investments in solar falling 34 percent to $113.7 billion from 2015. Meanwhile the amount of new wind power added fell to 54 gigawatts in 2016 from the record high of 63 gigawatts installed in 2015. Investments in wind power fell 9 precent to $112.5 billion globally in 2016.
"The investor hunger for existing wind and solar farms is a strong signal for the world to move to renewables," said Prof. Udo Steffens, president of Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, commenting on record acquisition activity in the clean power sector, which rose 17 percent to $110.2 billion.
The report also noted that investment in renewable energy was roughly double the investment in fossil fuel generation. At the same time the portion of power coming from renewables grew to 11.3 percent from 10.3 percent in 2015. That will prevent an estimated 1.7 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, the report stated.Tweet