In the past nine years, global renewable energy capacity has nearly doubled from 800 gigawatts to 1,560 gigawatts, with solar and wind showing the biggest gains. According to the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century‘s (REN21) Renewables 2014 Global Status Report, worldwide solar PV capacity is 53 times higher than in 2004, while wind power capacity is nearly seven times higher.
In 2004 only 48 countries contained defined renewable energy policy targets, compared to 144 at the end of 2013. Additionally, new investment in renewables increased from US $39.5 billion in 2004 to $214.4 billion in 2013. Despite the fact that global investment in solar PV declined nearly 22 percent since 2012, new capacity installations increased by more than 27 percent. And solar hot water saw the biggest increase out of all renewables — leaping from 98 GWth to 326 GWth.
The report also shows that China is leading the world in wind power — with 16.1 GW of capacity added in 2013. The United States only added 1.1 GW of new wind capacity in 2013, but it’s still second to China in total capacity. Germany takes first place by a wide margin in solar PV capacity, despite only adding 3.3 GW in 2013 compared to China’s 11.8 GW. The U.S. is currently in fifth place behind Italy and Japan, with 4.8 GW added in 2013.
Hydropower is still the dominant renewable energy source, with global capacity reaching 1,000 GW. China is the top country for hydro with a 26 percent share, followed by Brazil at 8.6 percent and the U.S. at 7.8 percent. If you remove hydro from the mix, the statistics are even more impressive – other renewables rose from 85 GW in 2004 to 560 GW by the end of 2013
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