A study conducted by the Worldwide Institute’s Climate and Energy Program has found that in spite of the recent economic recession, investments in renewable energy technology continued to rise steadily in 2011. The total new investments in renewable power and fuels reached $257 billion, increasing from 2010′s $220 billion.
One of the most important developments in 2011 was solar power in technology-specific investments. In comparison to other projects, $147.4 billion were invested in solar power, whereas $83.8 billion were invested in wind projects and $10.6 billion in biomass and waste-to-energy technology. Solar power investment has surpassed wind projects before, but having such a wide margin was a first. Meanwhile Biofuel attracted the fourth highest total investment in 2011 at $6.8 billion, followed by $5.8 billion for small hydro and $2.9 billion for geothermal installations.
The report also showed the United States had impressive growth in investment levels, reaching 57% and outpacing all countries except India, who scored a 62%. The U.S. had a significant pace of growth, but in terms of total dollars, China led the pack with $52.2 billion in new investments in 2011. It accounted for nearly 60 percent of the total new investments in developing countries and more than 20 percent of the global total. However, the United States ranks second in total national renewable energy investment at $50.8 billion.
It has been projected by the International Energy Agency that 90% of the growth in global energy demand during the next 25 years will come from developing countries. Investing in renewable energy is already a key part in the “climate finance” funds that will help these countries meet development challenges.
“Renewable energy technologies can enhance access to reliable, affordable, and clean modern energy services,” said Evan Musolino, Climate and Energy Research Associate and report co-author. “They are particularly well suited for remote rural populations, and in many instances they can provide the lowest-cost option for energy access. For these potentials to be met, new investment in the sector is essential.”