Record investment in clean energy, but warning for UK

11th February 2016


Related Topics

Related tags

  • Mitigation ,
  • Renewable

Author

Catherine Hill

Global investment in clean energy projects reached record levels last year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

Almost $329bn was invested in 2015, said BNEF, with 64GW of wind and 57GW of solar PV commissioned during the year, a capacity increase of almost 30%. China led the way, investing $110.5bn, a 17% rise on 2014 levels, while the UK was the strongest European market, with investment up 24% to $23.4bn.

According to trade association RenewableUK, onshore and offshore wind farms generated 11% of UK electricity in 2015 – up from 9.5% in 2014. This set a new annual record, while the 17% generated in December set a new monthly high. ‘We’ve had a bumper harvest thanks to increased deployment and superb wind speeds,’ said Gordon Edge, RenewableUK’s director of policy.

The 11% of UK electricity generated by wind last year comprised 5.8% from onshore and 5.2% from offshore wind. Overall, 21% of the UK’s electricity came from renewable energy sources in 2015.

Despite the record-breaking year for wind power, separate BNEF research for the Independent warned that the UK renewable energy industry was about to ‘fall off a cliff’. BNEF forecasts that the government’s decision to end subsidies for onshore wind will result in at least 1GW less of renewable energy generation being installed in the UK over the next five years. After 2020, the new renewables infrastructure will collapse to almost nothing, it forecast.

‘The government is kicking the onshore wind industry off the ladder too soon,’ said David Hostert, an analyst at BNEF. ‘Without some form of change in policy support, we could see investment drop off a cliff after 2019.’

Meanwhile, research by consultancy DNV GL for WWF Scotland has concluded that Scotland can meet its 2030 energy decarbonisation target of 50g CO2/kwh if it adopts a renewables-based electricity system and improves energy efficiency.

‘An almost entirely renewables-based system is possible with moderate efforts to reduce demand for electricity and ongoing work to reinforce the grid,’ says the report, Pathways to Power. ‘The current pipeline of renewables will be more than adequate to hit the decarbonisation target and allow for substantial export of electricity to the rest of Britain.’

The report puts the cost of the additional renewables capacity needed to hit the 2030 target at £663m a year. This, it says, is roughly the same as generating the equivalent electricity from unabated gas-fired plants.


Renewables can aid global economic growth, says IRENA

Achieving a 36% share of renewables in the global energy mix by 2030 would increase global gross domestic product (GDP) by up to 1.1% – or about $1.3trn a year – according to analysis by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

Its report, Renewable Energy Benefits: Measuring the Economics, provides the first global estimate of the macroeconomic impacts of renewable energy deployment. It outlines the advantages that would accrue by doubling the global share of renewable energy by 2030 from 2010 levels, and says improvements in human welfare would go well beyond gains in GDP due to a range of social and environmental benefits.

The impact of renewables deployment on welfare is estimated to be three to four times larger than its impact on GDP. Meanwhile, employment in the renewable energy sector would increase worldwide from 9.2 million to more than 24 million by 2030.

‘Mitigating climate change through the deployment of renewable energy and achieving other socio-economic targets is no longer an either or equation,’ said Adnan Amin, IRENA director-general. ‘An investment in one is an investment in both. That is the definition of a win-win.’


Transform articles

National climate plans could see fossil fuel demand peak by 2025

Demand for fossil fuels will peak by 2025 if all national net-zero pledges are implemented in full and on time, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has forecast.

15th October 2021

Read more

The Green Homes Grant is set to deliver only a fraction of the jobs and improvements intended, leading to calls for more involvement from local authorities in future schemes.

23rd September 2021

Read more

COVID-19 recovery packages have largely focused on protecting, rather than transforming, existing industries, and have been a “lost opportunity” for speeding up the global energy transition.

23rd September 2021

Read more

Half of the world's 40 largest listed oil and gas companies will have to slash their production by at least 50% by the 2030s to align with the goals of the Paris Agreement, new analysis has found.

9th September 2021

Read more

None of England’s water and sewerage companies achieved all environmental expectations for the period 2015 to 2020, the Environment Agency has revealed. These targets included the reduction of total pollution incidents by at least one-third compared with 2012, and for incident self-reporting to be at least 75%.

30th July 2021

Read more

The UK’s pipeline for renewable energy projects could mitigate 90% of job losses caused by COVID-19 and help deliver the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda. That is according to a recent report from consultancy EY-Parthenon, which outlines how the UK’s £108bn “visible pipeline” of investible renewable energy projects could create 625,000 jobs.

30th July 2021

Read more

Billions of people worldwide have been unable to access safe drinking water and sanitation in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a progress report from the World Health Organisation focusing on the UN’s sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6) – to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030”.

30th July 2021

Read more

The oil and gas industry is set to burn through its allocated carbon budget 13 years early unless decisive action is taken immediately, new analysis has found.

22nd July 2021

Read more

The UK will no longer use unabated coal to generate electricity from October 2024, one year earlier than originally planned, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has announced.

2nd July 2021

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert