A report by the United Nations gave evidence of the increasing confidence in investments in renewable energy, with a staggering 32 per cent increase in 2010.
The increase was mainly steered by drops in solar cell prices and surging interest in developing nations that contributed to an overall, US$211 billion in investments in wind, solar, geothermal and related technologies. According to the United Nations Environment Programme report, German solar rooftops and Chinese wind farms contributed to the investments, but developing nations, which spent US$72 billion more than developed nations who spent US$70 billion on investments in renewable energy.
In a report released by the London-based Bloomberg New Energy Finance firm, “Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investments 2011”, it’s evident that China led all nations with US$49.8 billion in investments, ahead of German spending of US$41 billion and US spending of US$29.6 billion. Rooftop solar panels increased by 91 per cent to US$60 billion, tied to stimulus spending in 2010 and government research, up 121 per cent to US$5.3 billion.
Renewable energy is also on the rise, with a 5 per cent contribution to global electricity – 30 per cent of new electrical capacity overall.
Traditional coal, gas and oil power plants are still ahead of renewables with a total investment in 2010 of US$219 billion, but the gap is closing fast. Udo Steffens, head of Germany’s Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, points out that in the next year or two, we will see the gap between the two closing up as renewables are fast catching up to fossil fuels.
There has been a 60 per cent drop in solar panel prices since 2008, the highest contributor to increased investment. Another leading factor in the US is the regulations in 30 states that require renewables to generate some portion of power used.