Reports: $257 Billion Invested Globally in Renewable Energy in 2011

June 20, 2012

Total investment in renewable power and fuels last year increased by 17% to a record $257 billion, according to two new reports on renewable energy trends by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21). The Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2012 is the fifth edition of the UNEP report. It is based on data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Among the highlights is the fact that solar power generation passed wind power to become the renewable energy technology of choice for global investors in 2011. See the Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2012 reportPDF.

According to the REN21 Renewables 2012 Global Status Report, renewables continued to grow strongly in 2011 in all end-use sectors: power, heating and cooling, and transportation. Renewable sources have grown to supply 16.7% of global energy consumption. Of that, the share provided by traditional biomass has declined slightly while the share sourced from modern renewable technologies has risen. See the REN21 Renewables 2012 Global Status reportPDF.

In 2011, the United States closed the gap with China at the top of the renewables investment rankings. U.S. investments grew 57% to $51 billion. China, which has led the world for two years, recorded renewable energy investment of $52 billion, up 17%. The top seven countries for renewable electricity capacity excluding large hydropower—China, the United States, Germany, Spain, Italy, India, and Japan—accounted for about 70% of total non-hydro renewable capacity worldwide. By the end of 2011, total renewable power capacity worldwide exceeded 1,360 gigawatts (GW), up 8% over 2010; renewables comprised more than 25% of total global power-generating capacity (estimated at 5,360 GW in 2011) and supplied an estimated 20.3% of global electricity. See the UNEP press release.