REN21’s Renewables 2012 Global Status Report notes that during 2011, renewables continued to grow strongly in all end-use sectors – power, heating and cooling and transport. Renewable sources have grown to supply 16.7 % of global final energy consumption. Of that, traditional biomass’s share has declined slightly, while modern renewable energy’s share has risen. In 2011, renewable energy technologies continued to expand into new markets: around 50 countries installed wind power capacity, and solar PV capacity was moving rapidly into new regions and countries.
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. China remained the leader, with $52 billion of renewables investment, excluding large hydro, closely followed by the US with $51 billion. Europe remains the biggest region for dollars invested, with $101 billion in 2011. Among the other major developing economies, the star performer was India, where the country’s National Solar Mission helped to spur an impressive 62% increase in renewable energy investment to $12 billion, the fastest investment expansion of any large renewables market in the world.
At least 118 countries, more than half of which are developing countries, had renewable energy targets in place by early 2012, up from 96 one year before, although some slackening of policy support was seen in developed countries. This weakening reflected austerity pressures, particularly in Europe, and legislative deadlock in the US Congress. Support for RE generation remains the most popular policy option with at least 65 countries and 27 states now having feed-in-tariffs.
As the world marks the UN “International Year of Sustainable Energy for All,” the REN21 Renewables 2012 Global Status Report includes a special focus on rural renewable energy, based on input from local experts working from around the world. Renewable energy is seen increasingly as a means for providing millions of people with a better quality of life through access to modern cooking, heating/cooling and electricity.
Direct link for the 2012 GSR: