UN report shows record renewables investment

Solar PV is one of the major growth areas for renewables investment. Image courtesy of AGL
Solar PV is one of the major growth areas for renewables investment. Image courtesy of AGL

The latest ‘Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment’ report has shown a record level of investment in renewable energy technology in 2015.

The report, which is published by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) in association with Bloomberg New Energy Finance and the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, showed a massive $286bn in renewable energy investment 2015.

This figure represents 3% increase on the previous investment record which was set in 2011.

“Renewables are becoming ever more central to our low-carbon lifestyles, and the record-setting investments in 2015 are further proof of this trend,” said UNEP executive director Achim Steiner.

One major finding from the UNEP report was that investment into renewable energy in 2015 was more than double that in traditional fossil fuel power generation.

All up 134GW of renewable energy was added to power grids globally, up from 106GW in 2014 and 87GW in 2013.

In 2015 the total global generation of renewable power managed to prevent an approximate 1.5 gigatonnes of CO2 emissions which would otherwise have been produced.

Another key finding in the report was that for the first time investment in the developing world has overtaken that in the developed world.

This rise was primarily driven by big funding boosts in China, where investment rose by 17% to $102.9bn, or 36% of the world’s total.

Climate change threat critical

While this new report has shown significant progress in the funding of renewable energy globally, it is still nowhere near enough to prevent catastrophic climate change.

The last few months have seen global temperatures peak at unprecedented levels, while just yesterday scientists confirmed Arctic winter sea ice was at its lowest ever extent.

Currently only 16.2% of global energy production comes from renewable sources with the remainder coming mainly from CO2-heavy fossil fuels.

“Coal-fired power stations and other conventional power plants have long lifetimes. Without further policy interventions, climate altering emissions of carbon dioxide will increase for at least another decade,” said Prof. Dr. Udo Steffens, president of the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management.