Record new renewable capacity installed in 2015

Around 147GW of new renewable energy capacity was added in 2015, the largest annual increase registered to date. It shows last year was “extraordinary” for the green energy sector, according […]

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By Jacqueline Echevarria

Around 147GW of new renewable energy capacity was added in 2015, the largest annual increase registered to date.

It shows last year was “extraordinary” for the green energy sector, according to a report by renewables policy organisation REN21.

Its ‘Renewables Global Status Report’ states wind and solar had record capacity additions for the second consecutive year, accounting for around 77% of new installations while hydropower represented most of the remainder.

By the end of 2015, renewable capacity in place was enough to supply around 23.7% of global electricity, it adds.

China, the US, Japan, UK and India were the countries which added the largest share of green power.

According to the report, renewables are now established globally as mainstream sources of energy because they are cost competitive, there are policy initiatives, there is better access to financing for green projects and growing demand for energy in developing and emerging economies.

Global new investment in renewable power and fuels increased to a record $285.9 billion (£194.4bn) in 2015 – representing a rise of 5% compared to 2014, REN21 states.

For the sixth consecutive year, renewables outpaced fossil fuels for net investment in power capacity additions.

For the first time investment in renewable projects in developing countries exceeded funding in green schemes in developed economies.

China, India and Brazil committed a total of $156 billion (£106.8bn) while renewable energy investment in developed countries as a group declined by 8% in 2015 to $130 billion (£88.4bn), with the most significant decrease in Europe.

The report also highlights employment in the renewable energy sector increased to eight million jobs last year.

Arthouros Zervos, Chair of REN21: “The renewables train is barreling down the tracks but it’s running on 20th century infrastructure – a system based on outdated thinking where conventional baseload is generated by fossil fuels and nuclear power. To accelerate the transition to a healthier, more secure and climate-safe future, we need to build the equivalent of a high-speed rail network – a smarter, more flexible system that maximises the use of variable sources of renewable energy and accommodates decentralised and community-based generation.”