Global renewable energy investments hit $285.9b


renewableNigeria, others need support policies

The quest to develop renewable energy projects across the world may be gaining momentum with the financial commitments reaching a record high of $285.9 billion in 2015.

A new document to be launched today by the REN21, tagged ‘Renewables Global Status Report’ showed that renewable power generating capacity saw its largest increase ever, with an estimated 147 gigawatts (GW) within the period (last year).

According to the report, government leadership continues to play a key role in driving the growth of renewables adding that as of early 2016, 173 countries had renewable energy targets in place and 146 countries had support policies.

Stressing the need for more government support for renewable, it stated that the majority of policies in support of renewable energy continued to focus on the power sector, with heating, cooling and transport policies lagging behind.

“The Renewables 2016 Global Status Report reveals that renewables are now firmly established as competitive, mainstream sources of energy in many countries around the world. 2015 was a record year not only for new installations, but also for investment reaching $286 billion worldwide in renewable power and fuels with China accounting for more than one third of the global total and developing countries surpassing developed countries in total renewable energy investments for the first time.

“Increased investment has also fostered job creation and there are now 8.1 million people working in the renewable energy sector representing steady growth in stark contrast with the depressed labour markets in the broader energy sector,” it stated.

It noted that the investments were driven by several factors including cost competitiveness with fossil fuels in many markets, better access to financing, concerns about energy security and the growing demand for modern energy services in developing and emerging economies.

Executive Secretary of REN21, Christine Lins, said, “What is truly remarkable about these results is that they were achieved at a time when fossil fuel prices were at historic lows, and renewables remained at a significant disadvantage in terms of government subsidies. For every dollar spent boosting renewables, nearly four dollars were spent to maintain our dependence on fossil fuels.”

The increased investment according to the report has triggered increase in technological advances, cost reductions and jobs opportunities, as there are now 8.1 million people working in the renewable energy sector, representing steady growth in stark contrast with depressed labour markets in the broader energy sector.

While trends are generally positive, the report highlights several challenges that remain to be addressed if governments are to fulfill their commitments to achieve a global transition away from fossil fuels.

These include: achieving effective integration of high shares of renewables into the grid; addressing policy and political instability, regulatory barriers, and fiscal constraints. It noted that there is far less policy focus on transport and, particularly, heating and cooling, adding that these sectors are progressing much more slowly.

Many countries throughout Africa increased their policy commitments in the power sector during 2015. All renewable power generating technologies except ocean energy are being deployed across the continent, with significant markets on-grid as well as off-grid (for solar PV in particular).

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