Renewables Surged In 2010, Despite Headwinds

Renewable energy showed itself to be a stalwart player on the troubled world economic scene in 2010, supplying an increasing proportion of global power consumption despite facing the headwinds of financial crisis, sagging incentives and low natural gas prices, Worldwatch Institute said.

Citing data from the Renewables 2011 Global Status Report, Worldwatch said renewables supplied 16 percent of global energy consumption and nearly 20 percent of electricity production last year. With many renewables still nominally more expensive than fossil fuels, the group said it was policy that mostly drove growth in the sector. By early this year, Worldwatch said, “at least 119 countries had some type of policy target or renewable support policy at the national level, more than doubling from 55 countries in early 2005.” Those policies helped spur a 30 percent increase in investment in renewables in 2010, to $211 billion, compared to $160 billion in 2009. Since 2004, investment in renewable energy has increased five-fold.

Renewables 2011 Global Status Report

image via Worldwatch

Particularly notable was that developing countries – China, especially – were playing an increasingly important role in the advancement of renewable energy. In 2010, developing countries accounted for more than half of the world’s renewable generation capacity, Worldwatch said.

In the United States, renewable energy accounted for an estimated 25 percent of new electric capacity in 2010, the report said, boosting its proportion of existing capacity to 11.6 percent. While China was the leader in new capacity investment in 2010, the United States continued as the world leader in non-hydro renewables capacity capacity, followed in order by China, Germany, Spain and India.

The annual Renewables Global Status Report is produced by REN21, policy network that provides a forum for international leadership in renewable energy policy, in collaboration with research partners around the world. A full copy of the report can be downloaded for free here. In addition to the report, REN21 also launched its new Renewables Interactive Map, which contains a wealth of information on policy targets, incentives, and generation capacity for each renewable energy technology type by country.

EarthTechling is launching a weekly green deals service in fall 2011 called Green Earthling Deals. Sign up for the weekly email by Wednesday, August 17, and you’ll be entered to win a 1st Step Weather Station from Urban Green Energy!

Lauren Craig is a writer and consultant living in Seattle, WA. She holds an M.S. in International Development from Tulane University, and is co-founder of Sustainable Systems Integrators, LLC., an employee-owned solar energy design and installation firm in New Orleans, LA. She is also certified in PV design and installation by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).