According to the Renewables 2015 Global Status Report from REN21, 59 percent of new electricity capacity came from renewables. This report comes on the heels of the IEA's latest report, showing that energy emissions could peak in 2020 if proven technologies and policies are adopted more widely. Renewable energy investments was one of the five key policy recommendations - with the IEA recommending that annual investment increase from $270 billion in 2014 to $400 billion in 2030. REN21's Global Status Report on renewables provides the evidence that such investments are already having significant impacts on global energy consumption and on global emissions.
Renewables accounted for 23 percent of global electricity production at the end of 2014. Solar, wind and other renewable technologies grew 8.5 percent in 2014, adding 135 gigawatts for a total installed capacity of 1,712 gigawatts. In the decade from 2004 to 2014, solar capacity has grown 48-fold and wind power has grown 8-fold.
Decoupling: Green Investment, Clean Energy, Clean Growth
Last year, GDP growth occurred without an increase in emissions, which has not happened in four decades - indicating a "decoupling" of GDP growth from greenhouse gas emissions. This achievement can be attributed to increased use of renewables, particularly in China, as well as energy efficiency gains. NRDC's latest report for the China Coal Cap Project showed that China's emissions could peak significantly earlier if coal consumption is restricted, and the country continues to make progress on its goal of increasing the non-fossil fuel share of all energy to 20 percent by 2030. This is only one example of what is possible with the right type of investments and policies. China accounted for 63 percent of developing country investments, but Chile, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, South Africa and Turkey were other leaders in the field.
Investment in developing countries rose 36 percent to $131 billion, while developed economies invested $140 billion, a 3 percent increase from 2013. China, the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom and Germany had the highest total investments, but it's also encouraging to see the diverse set of countries where investment per capita was highest, Burundi, Kenya, Honduras, Jordan, and Uruguay. As shown on the map below, investments are being made worldwide -- Latin America, Africa, Oceania, and with significant growth across Asia.
Today, 145 countries already have renewable energy policies and targets that create a supportive and more secure investment environment. The report calls for a removal of the $550 billion in annual subsidies for fossil fuel and nuclear energy, which allow for artificially low dirty energy prices, which makes it difficult for renewable energy to compete.
REN21's new report provides the data to back up a key pillar of the upcoming Paris climate conference, and a point that has been reiterated in the recent G7 Communique and among multilateral institutions including the World Bank and IMF - it is time to shift investments from fossil fuels (and subsidies) to clean energy sources.