Grid connected solar photovoltaic grew in capacity by 60% per year from 2000 – 2004 making it the fastest growing technology in the world, with wind power coming in second having a growth rate of 28% and 17gigawatts installed as of 2004.

Nearly 40 million households worldwide now heat their water with solar collectors, mostly installed in the last five years, and over 4.5 million power consumers in Europe, the US, Canada, Australia and Japan purchased renewable electricity at retail level or via certificates in 2004.

Renewables 2005: The Global Status Report, published by the Worldwatch Institute, is intended to fill a gap in the international energy reporting arena which tends to neglect the emerging renewable energy technologies. The Institute says it will produce regular updates from now on.

It found that government support for renewable energy is also growing rapidly and that government leadership is the key to market success. Brazil was found to be the market leader in biofuels, China in solar hot water, Germany in solar electricity, and Spain in wind power.

The market is set to soar even further in coming years as China has pledged to raise its ratio of renewable energy use from 7% to 13% by 2020.

At least 48 countries now have some type of renewable energy promotion policy including 14 developing countries. Developing countries also receive an estimated US$500 million each year as development assistance for renewable energy projects, training, and market support, with the German Development Finance Group, the World Bank Group, and the Global Environment Facility providing the majority of the funds.

The report was launched at the Beijing International Renewable Energy Conference 2005, sponsored by the Chinese government.

David Hopkins

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