Record-Breaking Global Investments in Renewables

By Ahnika LeRoy, Contributor

Last year was a record-breaking year for new renewable energy installations. According to a report conducted by Frankfurt School UNEP Collaborating Centre, investments in renewable energy were up 17% from 2013 to $270 billion globally in 2014.

Solar Panels Renewable Energy InvestmentInvestments in solar and wind accounted for over 90% of all investments focused on the clean energy sector. Solar rose 25% to $149.6 billion, adding a record 46 GW of capacity. A GW (gigawatt) is a unit of power equal to one billion watts. Wind rose by 11% to a record $99.5 billion, adding 49 GW, another record.

In total, wind and solar investments added 95 GW of generation capacity in 2014. Investments in geothermal energy generation jumped as well, showing a 27% increase to $2.7 billion.

“Once again in 2014, renewables made up nearly half of the net power capacity added worldwide, Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) said. “The growing penetration of renewable generation in the world’s developing economies is one of the important and encouraging aspects of the 2014 reports.”

Renewable energy investments in developing nations leaped 36% to $131.3 billion. China accounted for the lion’s share with $83.3 billion in investments; Brazil invested $7.6 billion, India invested $7.4 billion, and South Africa added $5.5 billion.

Wind Turbines Record Breaking Renewable InvestmentThese steep increases are a welcome trend, hopefully providing a dampening effect on carbon dioxide emissions growth in developing countries. Nevertheless, China’s CO2 emissions increased by 4.2% to 10.3 billion tons and India’s CO2 emissions increased by 4.4% reaching about 2.1 billion tons, according to the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency Trends in Global CO2 Emissions 2014 report.

The United States has also seen some progress on the renewable energy front, with $36.3 billion in new investments in 2014. However, growth has been hindered by uncertainty around energy policies and incentives. The Production Tax Credit (PTC) is a federal incentive that provides financial support for the development of renewable energy facilities. Congress has extended the provision six times and has allowed it to expire on six occasions leading to volatile potential outcomes.

The rapid growth in renewable energy investment around the world is an encouraging trend—especially given the growth in major developing economies.

At First Affirmative, we understand that the ways we save, spend, and invest can dramatically influence both the fabric and consciousness of society. We believe that in addition to the benefits of ownership, investors bear responsibility for the impact our money has in the world. Are you making conscious decisions about the impact of your consumer purchase and investment decisions?