The falling price of solar photovoltaic systems was the main driver of an increase in global renewable energy generation in 2013, according to a new report produced by the Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Center for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance, the United Nations Environment Program and Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Titled “Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2014,” the report reveals that the market share of renewables rose to 8.5 percent of global electric power generation in 2013 – an increase from 7.8 percent in 2012. But cheap solar, along with policy uncertainty, also contributed to a drop in clean energy investments last year; investments fell 14 percent to $214 billion worldwide.
According to the report, renewables were responsible for 43.6 percent of new global power generation capacity last year, preventing an estimated 1.2 gigatons of climate change-causing carbon dioxide emissions from being released into the atmosphere. The sharply falling price of solar contributed to a record amount of solar construction in 2013 at around 38 GW.
Last year marked the first time that China surpassed Europe in renewable energy investments despite a drop of 6 percent. China invested $56 billion compared to Europe’s $48 billion, a drop of 44 percent, and the United States spent $36 billion, down 10 percent from 2012. Several developing countries saw an increase in clean energy investments and Japan’s solar boom helped the island nation increase its renewable energy investment 80 percent to $29 billion.
While the shale gas boom in the United States has been hailed as a “bridge fuel” to a renewable energy future, according to the report natural gas is looking more like a wall blocking clean energy investments. Shale gas is also contributing to policy uncertainty in the U.S., which is one reason that renewable energy investments are falling.
Another recent report found that wind energy is cost competitive with natural gas when the price of carbon is included.
Via Huffington Post
Images via Exenergy Limited