Two major reports on the state of renewable energy in the world were released in June: the 2012 edition of REN21's Renewables Global Status Report (GSR) and its UNEP sister publication Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment (GTR).
Renewables 2012 Global Status Report
The findings in the 2012 GSR speak to the cumulating effect of steady growth in renewable energy markets, support policies and investment over the past years. In 2011:
- Renewable sources supplied 16.7 % of global final energy consumption where the share of modern renewables increased while the share of traditional biomass slightly decline
- 118 countries implemented RE targets with more than half in developing countries
- Investment in renewables increased 17% to a record $257 billion, despite a widening sovereign debt crisis in Europe and rapidly falling prices for renewable power equipment,
- Photovoltaic module prices dropped by 50% and onshore wind turbines by close to 10% bringing to price of the leading renewable power technologies closer to grid parity with fossil fuels such as coal and gas.
These are just a few of the trends found in the GSR 2012 that illustrate the significant and rapidly growing share of renewables in energy markets, industrial policy and investments, moving renewable beyond “niche” status.
The 2012 GSR places a special focus on rural renewable energy by highlighting the main trends in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The perspectives provided in the GSR are further detailed in the REN21 Renewables Interactive Map, where country specific renewable energy developments are highlighted.
First released in 2005, the GSR has grown to become a truly collaborative effort of over 400 authors, contributors and reviewers, and is today the most frequently referenced report on renewable energy market, industry and policy trends. It provides testimony of the undeterred growth of electricity, heat, and fuel production capacities from renewable energy sources, including solar PV, wind power, solar hot water/heating, biofuels, hydropower, and geothermal.
Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2012
This report indicates that global investment in renewable power and fuels increased by 17% to a new record of $257 billion in 2011. Developing economies made up 35% of this total investment, compared to 65% for developed economies.
The US closed in on China in the race to be the lead investor in Renewable Energy, with a 57% leap in its outlays to $51 billion. India however, displayed the fastest expansion rate for investment of any large renewables market in the world in 2011, with a 62% increase to $12 billion.
One of the dominant features of the Renewable Energy landscape in 2011 was falling technology costs. Photovoltaic module prices fell by close to 50%, and onshore wind turbine prices by around 10%. These changes brought these two leading renewable power technologies closer to competitiveness with fossil-fuel alternatives such as coal and gas. The other key feature was a weakening in policy support for Renewable Energy in many developed countries. This reflected austerity pressures, particularly in Europe, and legislative deadlock in the US Congress.
Both publications can be downloaded below.