UNEP Global Trends Report: New Solar and Wind Installations Hit Record High in 2014
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The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has released the 9th iteration of its 'Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment' (GTR), reporting that 2014 saw a 17% increase in renewable energy investments over 2013.

GTR 2015 also finds that 2014 was the best year on record for newly installed renewables capacity at 103 gigawatts (GW), an amount equivalent to the total capacity of the US's 158 nuclear power plant reactors.

UNEP31 March 2015: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has released the 9th iteration of its ‘Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment’ (GTR), reporting that 2014 saw a 17% increase in renewable energy investments over 2013. GTR 2015 also finds that 2014 was the best year on record for newly installed renewables capacity at 103 gigawatts (GW), an amount equivalent to the total capacity of the US’s 158 nuclear power plant reactors.

The increase in renewable energy investment represents a rebound after two years of declines (excluding large hydro-electric projects), according to UNEP. Total 2014 investment amounted to US$270 billion, just short of 2011’s all-time high of US$279 billion, as tracked in the annual reports. In GTR 2015, UNEP identifies trends driving the increase, such as offshore wind projects in Europe and the expansion of solar in China and Japan.

As outlined in the report, newly installed renewable energy capacity, which equaled half the total net power capacity added worldwide in 2014, helped the world produce 9.1% of its electricity from wind, solar, biomass and waste-to-power, geothermal, small hydro and marine power, up from 8.5% in 2013. The report highlights that both solar and wind set records in 2014, with 46 GW of solar photovoltaic (PV) and 49 GW of wind capacity added; the latter also set a record for total annual investment, which reached US$99.5 billion.

The report authors find that renewables’ 9.1% share of the world’s energy mix is equivalent to a savings of 1.3 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2). According to Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, “These climate-friendly energy technologies are now an indispensable component of the global energy mix, and their importance will only increase as markets mature, technology prices continue to fall and the need to rein in carbon emissions becomes ever more urgent.”

According to the report, several challenges remain as obstacles to renewable energy deployment, including policy uncertainty, difficulties in creating policy that keeps pace with technological change and structural issues in the electricity system.

The report was prepared for UNEP by the Frankfurt School (FS)-UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). [UNEP Press Release] [FS-UNEP Centre Press Release] [FS-UNEP Centre Publication Webpage] [Publication: Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2015]

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