Global renewables investment to triple this decade
Research - SEPTEMBER 5, 2019

Global renewables investment to triple this decade

by Andrea Zander

Global investment in new renewable energy capacity over this decade — 2010 to 2019 inclusive — is on course to hit $2.6 trillion, with more gigawatts of solar power capacity installed than any other generation technology, according to Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2019, a report by the UN Global Climate Action Summit.

This investment is set to have roughly quadrupled renewable energy capacity (excluding large hydro) from 414 gigawatts at the end of 2009 to just over 1,650 gigawatts when the decade closes at the end of this year.

Solar power will have drawn half — $1.3 trillion — of the $2.6 trillion in renewable energy capacity investments made over the decade. Solar alone will have grown from 25 gigawatts at the beginning of 2010 to an expected 663 gigawatts by the close of 2019 — enough to produce all the electricity needed each year by about 100 million average homes in the United States.

The global share of electricity generation accounted for by renewables reached 12.9 percent, in 2018, up from 11.6 percent in 2017. This avoided an estimated 2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions last year alone — a substantial saving given global power sector emissions of 13.7 billion tonnes in 2018.

Including all major generating technologies (fossil and zero-carbon), the decade is set to see a net 2,366 gigawatts of power capacity installed, with solar accounting for the largest single share (638 gigawatts), coal second (529 gigawatts), and wind and gas in third and fourth places (487 gigawatts and 438 gigawatts), respectively.

The cost-competitiveness of renewables has also risen dramatically over the decade. The levelized cost of electricity (a measure that allows comparison of different methods of electricity generation on a consistent basis) is down 81 percent for solar photovoltaics since 2009; onshore wind is down 46 percent.

China has been by far the biggest investor in renewables capacity over this decade, having committed $758 billion between 2010 and the first half of 2019, with the United States second with $356 billion and Japan third with $202 billion.

Europe as a whole invested $698 billion in renewables capacity over the same period, with Germany contributing the most at $179 billion, and the United Kingdom was second with $122 billion.

While China remained the largest single investor in 2018 (at $88.5 billion, down 38 percent), renewable energy capacity investment was more spread out across the globe than ever last year, with 29 countries each investing more than $1 billion, up from 25 in 2017 and 21 in 2016.

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