2014 was record-breaking year for renewable energy

Ilario D'Amato
Reading time: 5 minutes
18 June 2015

LONDON: Renewable energy broke another record last year, accounting for over 60% of net addition to the world’s power capacity, the new REN21 Renewables 2015 Global Status Report states.

An increment of 135 gigawatts (GW) of added renewable energy power put the total installed capacity to the highest level ever of 1,712 GW, an increment of 8.5% from the year before, led by installations for wind and solar photovoltaic (PV).

“The data continues to confirm that the clean revolution, the shift toward a prosperous low carbon economy, is under way,” comments Mark Kenber, CEO, The Climate Group. “Renewable energy is proven to be reliable, cheap and the only sustainable option for both the economy and the environment. Many businesses already recognise this: our RE100 program, supporting companies with 100% renewable power targets, clearly shows that green business is good business through inexpensive, reliable clean energy.

“However, there is still much more to do. Policymakers have the opportunity of attracting clean investment, which the report shows increasing especially in developing countries, through their national and international pledges. This is why the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) countries are presenting ahead of COP21 in Paris should be seen as strategic investment plans for low carbon growth.”


Last year the fight against climate change marked another important milestone: for the first time in 40 years, global economy grow while CO2 emission stalled – despite the world’s average annual increase in energy consumption by 1.5%.

The clean revolution has been mainly led by solar PV capacity, which soared by an impressive rate of 48-fold from 2004 – when it accounted for 3.7 GW – to 177 GW last year. Wind energy capacity also grew nearly 8-fold over the last 10 years, from 48 GW in 2004 to 370 GW in 2014.

Considering the global energy mix, renewables account for an estimated 27.7% of power generating capacity – or 22.8% of global energy demand, which is up from 19% in 2012.


Renewable energy investment is also soaring too, increasing 17% over 2013 to reach US$270.2 billion. If we include also large-scale hydropower projects, new investment in renewable power and fuels was more than US$300 billion.

To put the numbers in perspective, “global new investment in renewable power capacity was more than twice that of investment in net fossil fuel power capacity,” states the report, outpacing for the fifth consecutive year net investments in fossil fuels.

Developing countries in particular are investing in clean energy, an encouraging sign of the fact they are growing their economies through a prosperous, low carbon pathway.

In fact, investment was up 36% from 2103 to US$ 131.3 billion in developing countries last year. Significantly, this number is almost the same as investment by developed countries, which reached US$ 138.9 billion in 2014 – a mere 3% increase from the previous year.

On a regional scale, China had the lion share with 63% of all developing country investment, also topping the global leaderboard. China was followed by United States, Japan, the United Kingdom and Germany.


Such investment brought parallel growth in employment for the green energy sector, with an estimated 7.7 million people worldwide working directly or indirectly in the sector as of last year.

However, electricity continues to be a global problem for the poorest regions of the world, with more than one billion people – accounting for 15% of the whole humanity – still lacking access to it.

To tackle the issue, The Climate Group has launched the project Bijli – clean energy for all, aimed to enhance the lives of rural villagers in India with no access to the electric grid. Simultaneously, the project helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provides more than 50,000 people with clean and cheap renewable and solar-powered energy.

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by Ilario D'Amato

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