Renewable energy’s share of electricity generation climbs

The renewable energy sector has withstood a significant drop in investment in 2013 to grow its share of global electricity generation.

A new report from the Frankfurt School, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Bloomberg New Energy Finance said renewables excluding large hydro accounted for 43.6 per cent of newly installed generating capacity last year.

This was despite investments falling 14 per cent to US$214.4 billion [about AU$228 billion].

The Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2014 report partly blamed the US$35.1 billion drop on the falling cost of solar photovoltaic systems and policy uncertainty in many countries.

“The fact renewable energy is gaining a bigger share of overall generation globally is encouraging. To support this further, we must re-evaluate investment priorities, shift incentives, build capacity and improve governance structures,” UNEP executive director Achim Steiner said.

He said renewable energy’s strong market share should give governments the confidence to commit to a new agreement to cut emissions at the 2015 climate change conference in Paris.

“A long-term shift in investment over the next few decades towards a cleaner energy portfolio is needed to avoid dangerous climate change, with the energy sector accounting for around two thirds of total greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

World energy-related carbon dioxide emissions would have been an estimated 1.2 gigatonnes higher in 2013 were it not for renewables, according to the report.

The report said this would have increased by about 12 per cent the gap between where emissions are heading and where they need to be in 2020 if the world is to have a realistic prospect of staying under a two degree centigrade temperature rise.