2005 a bumper year for renewables investment

More cash was ploughed in the renewable energy sector last year than in any other, with 2005 seeing an investment of US$8bn more than during the previous 12 months.

According to a report published by the Renewable Energy Policy Network (REN21) global spending on renewables was US$30bn in 2004 but that rose to US$38bn the following year.

The fastest area of growth was wind power, with capacity rising by 24% over the course of the year to around 59GW. A total of ten countries had added more than 300MW of wind power, compared to the five which had done so in 2004.

Biomass had also seen a major surge in investment and production in a number of countries while the USA produced record amounts of ethanol fuel for cars and three new EU countries began producing the fuel.

Biodiesel production almost doubled, grid-connected solar power was up by 55% and solar hot water capacity increased by 23%.

Mohamed El-Ashry, chairman of REN21’s steering committee, said this growth would be impossible without financiers having faith in the future of the renewables market and the leadership necessary from the political sphere.

“Renewables are capturing increased attention of businesses and policy-makers around the world,” he said.

The Global Status Report also notes that there are now at least 85 renewable energy companies worth more than US$40 million with the combined value of businesses of this scale double what it was in 2004.

On the issue of policy, while the lawmakers of the EU and US had been the most environmentally active, there were also many legislative moves to make renewables more attractive in the developing world with many countries stepping up targets for use of biofuels.

Sam Bond

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