Global renewables race opens up

Report finds emerging economies are getting in on the action as the Australian industry 'stalls' amid policy uncertainty.

A new global report has found developing countries are now contributing significantly to renewable energy sector growth, with the amount of countries with renewables-supportive policies up sixfold, from just 15 to now 95, since 2005.

The report also found six more countries added renewable energy targets in 2013, bringing the total to 144, while China accounted for almost a third of new renewables capacity, adding for the first time more renewables last year than its additions in either fossil fuels or nuclear (72 per cent of Europe's new energy capacity was sourced from renewables, the sixth time renewables additions have exceeded fossil fuels).

Overall, 56 per cent of power sector capacity additions were from renewables.

The REN21’s Renewables 2014 Global Status Report, released last week, painted a picture of an expanding renewables sector worldwide, supporting 6.5 million direct and indirect jobs and providing 19 per cent of the world's energy (with biomass contributing just under half over that portion, but with its share in decline).

Graph for Global renewables race opens up

“Markets, manufacturing, and investment expanded further across the developing world, clearly illustrating that renewables are no longer dependent upon a small handful of countries," REN21 chair Arthouros Zervos said.  

And while new renewables investment (minus hydro) fell 16 per cent, to $US214.4 billion, overall capacity increased nearly 17 per cent to 560 GW with solar up 39 per cent to 139 GW and wind rising 12 per cent to 318 GW.

It was the first year more solar than wind was installed worldwide, with the sun technology accounting for nearly a third of new capacity additions despite global investment in PV dipping 22 per cent relative to 2012.

Graph for Global renewables race opens up

Wind market growth was down nearly 10 GW compared to 2012, reflecting primarily a steep drop in the US market. Offshore wind had a record year, with 1.6 GW added, almost all of it in the EU. 

Mr Zervos said "stable and predictable renewable energy policies" were needed along with finance models and technology developments to keep the renewables transition going.
The Clean Energy Council said Australia was at risk of being left behind as other countries continued to strengthen their targets for renewable energy.

"The process of constantly reviewing Australia’s Renewable Energy Target is destabilising the market and stalling local investment,” CEC chief David Green said. 

“Australia has some of the best sun, wind and waves in the world. The Renewable Energy Target needs to be left to get on with the job it was designed to do under former Prime Minister John Howard and expanded in 2009 with the support of the major parties."

Meanwhile, Uruguay, Mauritius, and Costa Rica were among the top countries for investment in new renewable power and fuels, relative to annual GDP.

The graphs below shows the top five nations for total additions in each renewable category, and the top five for total installed capacity in each category. 

Top 5 countries

Graph for Global renewables race opens up

Graph for Australia 'falling behind on renewables'

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