Map of the Day: Where Investment in Renewables is Booming

Today’s map comes from a new UN-backed report Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2018. As the name suggests the report, which was a joint effort of the United Nations Environment Program and Bloomberg New Energy Finance, examined investment patterns in renewable energy generation.

As you can see, in recent years China has topped new investments in renewables — by a long shot. The report says that in 2017, China invested about $126 billion in renewable energy, which is more than 45% of the global total. For its part, renewable energy investment in the United States was $40.5 billion in 2017, which represented a 6% drop compared to 2016.

Globally, increases in renewable energy were largely driven by new investments in solar energy, which were up 18% last year.  Again, the increases in solar were driven by a surge of investment from China. Some $86.5 billion of China’s $126 billion investment in renewable energy was for solar.

Overall, the reports finds that the proportion of energy generated by renewable sources around the world was about 12% last year. This figure excludes large hydroelectric, but includes: wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and waste-to-energy, geothermal, marine and small hydroelectric.

From the report:

The upper line shows the percentage of net new generating capacity added in each year that is made up of renewable technologies (excluding large hydro). This has increased spectacularly over the years, from just under 20% in 2007, to 39% in 2013, to 57% 2016 and 61% in 2017.

These percentages are worked out by taking the estimated gross additions in gigawatt terms for each technology (coal, gas, oil, nuclear, large hydro, small hydro, geothermal, biomass and waste, onshore and offshore wind, PV and solar thermal), and then subtracting the gigawatts of each that is taken out of service. That gives a total net addition figure. The net addition of renewables excluding large hydro can be compared against that.

The Sustainable Development Goals have set a target of by 2030 to “increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.” The increases thus far, while steady, have only been incremental — a ‘substantial’ increase they are not.  Still, this report does demonstrate that there is an unrelenting growing appetite for renewable energy — and that this shift is very much underway.

Full report here.