The REN21 Renewables 2011 Global Status Report shows that the renewable energy sector continues to perform well despite continuing economic recession, incentive cuts, and low natural-gas prices.
In 2010, renewable energy sources supplied an estimated 20% of global energy consumption, and by year's end, comprised 25% of global power capacity from all sources.
And renewable energy also hit a milestone in the US: domestic production is now greater than nuclear and is closing in on oil, according to the "Monthly Energy Review" by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
For 2011, renewable energy sources (biomass/biofuels, geothermal, solar, water, wind) supplied 11.73% of U.S. energy, 5.65% more than nuclear power, and 77.15% of that from domestic crude oil production, with the gap closing rapidly.
Looking at all energy sectors (e.g., electricity, transportation, thermal), production of renewable energy (including hydropower) increased by 15.07% compared to Q1 2010, and by 25.07% compared to Q1 2009.
Biomass/biofuels accounted for 48.06%, hydropower for 35.41%, wind for 12.87%, geothermal for 2.45%, and solar for 1.16%.
"Notwithstanding the recent nuclear accident in Japan and the rapid growth in energy and electricity from renewable sources, congressional Republicans continue to press for more nuclear energy funding while seeking deep cuts in renewable energy investments," says Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. "One has to wonder ‘what are these people thinking?'"
Global Solar PV
Global solar PV production and markets more than doubled in comparison with 2009, thanks to government incentive programs and the continued fall in PV module prices.
Germany installed more PV in 2010 than the entire world added in 2009. PV markets in Japan and the U.S. almost doubled relative to 2009.
Globally, wind power added the most new capacity (followed by hydropower and solar PV), but for the first time ever, Europe added more PV than wind capacity.
Renewable energy policies continue to be the main driver behind the industy's growth.
By early 2011, at least 119 countries had a renewable energy policy and/or target at the national level, more than doubling from 55 countries in early 2005. More than half of these countries are in the developing world.
Of all the policies employed by governments, feed-in tariffs remain the most common (and successful).
Clean Energy Investments
Last year, investments reached a record $211 billion in renewables - about one-third more than the $160 billion invested in 2009, and more than five times the amount invested in 2004.
Money invested in renewable energy companies, and in utility-scale generation and biofuel projects increased to $143 billion, with developing countries surpassing developed economies for the first time, as shown in the GSR's recently released companion report, UNEP Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2011.
China attracted $48.5 billion, or more than a third of the global total, but other developing countries also experienced major developments in terms of policies, investments, market trends, and manufacturing.
Beyond Asia, significant advances are also seen in many Latin American countries, and at least 20 countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa have active renewable energy markets.
Developed countries still lead in investments in small-scale power projects and R&D. Germany, Italy and the US were the top three in 2010.
"The increased renewable energy activity in developing countries highlighted in this year's report is very encouraging, since most of the future growth in energy demand is expected to occur in developing countries," says Mohamed El-Ashry, Chairman of REN21's Steering Committee.
"More and more of the world's people are gaining access to energy services through renewables, not only to meet their basic needs, but also to enable them to develop economically," says El-Ashry.
- Over 50% of renewable energy capacity is now in developing countries (collectively)
- Over 100 countries added solar PV capacity.
- The top five countries for non-hydro renewables are US, China, Germany, Spain, and India.
- In the US, 30 states (plus Washington, D.C.) have Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS).
- China led the world in the installation of wind turbines and solar thermal systems and was the top hydropower producer in 2010. They added an estimated 29 GW of grid-connected renewable capacity, for a total of 252 GW, an increase of 13% over 2009.
- Renewables accounted for about 26% of China's total installed electric capacity in 2010, 18% of generation, and more than 9% of final energy supply.
- Brazil produces virtually all of the world's sugar-derived ethanol, and has been adding new hydropower, biomass and wind plants, and solar heating systems.
- In the EU, renewables represented 41% of new electricity capacity.
- The EU exceeded all its 2010 targets for wind, solar PV, concentrating solar thermal, and heating/heat pumps. Countries including Finland, Germany, Spain, and Taiwan raised their targets, and South Africa, Guatemala, and India, among others, introduced new ones.
- Developing countries, which now represent over half of all countries with policy targets, are playing an increasingly important role in advancing renewable energy.
The full report is available at the link below. REN21 is also launching its Renewables Interactive Map - a streamlined tool for gathering and sharing information online about developments related to renewable energy.