Clean energy investment surges past fossil fuels to new heights

Against a precarious backdrop of tumbling oil prices, 2015 saw $367bn invested into new renewable power capacity and generators - $114bn more than what was spent on new fossil fuel generation - a new report has found.

The Clean Energy Canada’s annual Tracking the Energy Revolution report found that renewables excelled in a complex economic environment, with 2015 marking the first time developing countries invested more money on clean energy than developed countries.

Clean Energy Canada’s executive director Merran Smith said: “A third of a trillion dollars was invested in renewable power in 2015 – that’s serious money, and it set a new record for global clean energy investment, even in the face of stiff competition from cheap fossil fuels.

“Clean energy is taking off because it offers value that can’t be beat—it’s local, so it offers energy security. It’s a climate solution. It reduces health issues from smog. It’s increasingly competitive, and there’s big money to be made.

“Look at the world’s fastest growing economies—they are going renewable. 2015 marked the first year we saw more money invested in clean energy in emerging economies than in developed countries. This presents a tremendous opportunity for clean energy companies.”

The report cited that developing countries spent $167bn on clean energy in 2015 compared to developed countries which spend $162bn. This is despite the unsubsidised cost of wind energy falling by 61% since 2009 as well as solar array costs falling by 82%.

UK generation

The report found that UK investment into clean energy hit $23.4bn last year – a 24% increase on 2014. This puts them into the top five countries for clean energy investment alongside China ($110.5bn), the United States ($56bn), Japan ($46bn) and India ($10.9bn).

Provisional figures released by DECC last week revealed that low-carbon energy sources rose to account for 43% of the UK’s electricity supply last year – although oil production saw its first significant increase this millennium. This was aided by the steady progress of wind generation which, along with falling installation costs, drove £1.25bn of investment into Britain’s economy last year – with the industry now employing 30,500 people.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has already confirmed that low-carbon energy options like wind, solar and the recently scrapped CCS concept will be the cheapest way to meet the UK’s need for more generation in the 2020s.

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Matt Mace

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