UNEP: Renewable energy quadruples globally to 1,650 GW in 2010s

Sep 5, 2019 – Global investment in new renewable energy capacities reached USD2.6 trillion during the past decade, from 2010 to 2019, according to a joint report by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the Frankfurt School — UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate and Sustainable Energy Finance, Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2019.

Solar energy attracted half of the investment, USD1.3 trillion, to become the leader in terms of growth. 

Installed renewable energy capacities excluding large hydropower plants increased from 414 GW at the end of 2009 to over 1,650 GW by the end of 2019. Solar power capacities increased from 25 GW to 663 GW respectively.

The global share of electricity generation from renewable sources reached 12.9% in 2018, compared with 11.6% in 2017.

Considering all major technologies that generate electricity (fossil and carbon-free), 2,366 GW of power capacity was installed in the past decade, including 638 GW of solar energy, 529 GW of coal; and wind and gas occupying the third and fourth positions with shares in 487 GW and 438 GW, respectively.

The competitiveness of renewable energy has also increased dramatically over the decade. The levelized cost of electricity (an indicator that allows comparison of different methods of electricity production) has slid 81% for solar photovoltaic since 2009 and 46% for onshore wind.

In 2018, global investment in renewable energy reached USD272.9 billion, marking the ninth consecutive year of over USD200 bln funding, and the fifth year of investment surpassing USD250 bln. It was also was about three times the global investment in coal and gas-fired generation capacity combined.

Over the past decade, China has been the largest renewable energy investor, spending USD758 billion from 2010 to the first half of 2019, the United States was in second place with investments of USD356 billion, and Japan was number three with USD202 billion

All European countries invested USD698 billion in green energy in the period, with Germany accounting for USD179 billion and UK for USD122 billion.

Global renewable energy investment in 2018

A record high of 167 GW of new clean energy facilities was completed in 2018 as compared with 160 GW in 2017. The result was achieved despite a continuing decline in capital expenditures for solar and wind energy, as well as a policy change that affected investment in China in the second half of the year.

In 2018, China remained the leader of green investment, although the money it spent decreased 38% to USD88.5 billion. Renewable market investment was distributed more evenly throughout the world than ever before. The number of countries that disbursed more than USD1 billion for the segment amounted to 29 in 2018, as compared with 25 in 2017 and 21 in 2016.