Developing countries spearhead 2014’s 17% rise in green energy investments

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03 April 2015 - Global investments in green energy rebounded strongly last year, registering a solid 17% increase after two years of declines, according to UNEP's "Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2015" report released on 31 March 2015. Investments in developing countries far outstripped those in developed countries jumping 36% whilst the latter rose by only 3%.

China saw by far the biggest renewable energy investments in 2014 - up 39% from 2013. Between them, China and Japan invested $74.9 billion in solar in 2014, around half the world's total.

Some sources performing better than others

Wind, solar, biomass and waste-to-power, geothermal, small hydro and marine power contributed an estimated 9.1% of world electricity generation in 2014, up from 8.5% in 2013, equalling the energy generating capacity of all 158 nuclear power plant reactors in the USA.

Solar and wind alone accounted for 92% of overall investment in renewable power and fuels, whilst other renewable energy sources did not perform so well by comparison. Biofuels fell by 8%, biomass and waste-to-energy dropped 10% and small hydro was down 17%.

Policy more damaging than oil prices

According to Udo Steffens, President of the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management who produced the report in conjunction with UNEP, the drastic oil price drop last year had less of a negative impact than had been expected.

"Oil and renewables do not directly compete for power investment dollars," said Steffens. "Wind and solar sectors should be able to carry on flourishing, particularly if they continue to cut costs per MWh. Their long-term story is just more convincing."

Lack in investor confidence is more likely to be caused by increasing uncertainty surrounding government support policies for renewables, he said. "Southern Europe is still almost a no-go area for investors because of retroactive policy changes, most recently those affecting solar farms in Italy.”


Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNEP is optimistic about the report’s implications for the future of renewable energy: "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."

Read the full report here