New world record set in renewable energy investments

Berlin, March 27 (IANS) Global investment in renewable energy capacity hit a new record in 2015 despite falling oil, gas and coal prices, says a UN-backed report.

All investments in renewables, including early-stage technology and R&D as well as spending on new capacity, totalled $286 billion in 2015, some 3 percent higher than the previous record in 2011, said the 10th edition of United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) annual report – Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2016.

A total of 134 gigawatts (GW) of renewable power was added worldwide in 2015 compared to 106GW in 2014 and 87GW in 2013, the report said.

It highlighted that the green investments has broadened out to a wider and wider array of developing countries, helped by sharply reduced costs and by the benefits of local power production over reliance on imported commodities.

“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 in investments were higher in developing countries than developed,” said Achim Steiner, executive director at UNEP, in an official statement.

In 2015, for the first time, investments in renewable energy in developing and emerging economy nations ($156 billion, up 19 percent compared to 2014) surpassed those in developed countries ($130 billion, down eight percent from 2014).

Much of these record-breaking developing world investments took place in China (up 17 percent to $102.9 billion, or 36 percent of the world total).

Other developing countries showing increased investment included India (up 22 percent to $10.2 billion), South Africa (up 329 percent to $4.5 billion), Mexico (up 105 percent to $4 billion) and Chile (up 151 percent to $3.4 billion).

Among developed countries, investment in Europe was down 21 percent, from $62 billion in 2014 to $48.8 billion in 2015, the continent’s lowest figure for nine years despite record investments in offshore wind projects.

Investments in the US were up by 19 percent to $44.1 billion, and in Japan investment was much the same as the previous year at $36.2 billion.

The report was launched by the Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) on Thursday.

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