Global renewable energy investment is on track to hit US$2.6 trillion in this decade, according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance study released last week by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Frankfurt School’s UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance.
While the total still falls short of what’s needed to get the climate crisis under control and stabilize average global warming at 1.5°C, “the boom in the capacity to generate electricity from low-carbon sources gives credibility to an effort by world leaders to slash climate-damaging greenhouse gases,” Bloomberg News reports . And meanwhile, “falling costs of wind and solar power plants is making more projects in new markets economically competitive with generation fed by fossil fuels.”
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“Investing in renewable energy is investing in a sustainable and profitable future, as the last decade of incredible growth in renewables has shown,” said UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen. “It is clear that we need to rapidly step up the pace of the global switch to renewables if we are to meet international climate and development goals.”
“Sharp falls in the cost of electricity from wind and solar over recent years have transformed the choice facing policy-makers,” added BloombergNEF CEO Jon Moore. “Now, in many countries around the world, either wind or solar is the cheapest option for electricity generation.”
Installed solar capacity around the globe has grown 2,500% in the last decade, from 25 GW at the beginning of 2010 to an anticipated 663 GW by the end of this year.
Citing a separate analysis by the International Energy Agency, Bloomberg says renewable energy is capturing a growing share of the investment in the global electric power industry. “Renewables such as wind, solar, and hydroelectric plants will draw about $322 billion a year through 2025,” the news agency states. “That’s almost triple the $116 billion a year that will go into fossil fuel plants, and about the same as what will be invested in power grids.”
But “despite the significant investment, renewables still makes up a relatively small proportion of global power generation,” Bloomberg notes. Over the last decade, “China led the way in buying wind and solar plants, but also poured money into new coal power generation units.”