Last year the world saw USD 286 billion in investments in green energy, 3% more than the last record, registered in 2011. Annual report published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said Turkey, Morocco and Uruguay all topped USD 1 billion. Nations in the developing and emerging group had USD 156 billion in investment, 19% up on the year, against USD 130 billion or 8% less in developed countries, in a first change in balance. Developed volumes are from members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development excluding Mexico, Chile, and Turkey, but absolute non-OECD segment would still have come on top in investment in renewables. The report excludes hydroelectric projects of over 50 MW from the renewables category.
China led in new investments, with USD 102.9 billion, just above the volume in next three markets in the list combined: the United States (USD 44.1 billion), Japan (36.2) and Britain (22.2). Following in the top ten are India, Germany, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico and Chile. Investments in the group range from USD 10.2 billion to USD 3.4 billion. India beat Germany to the fifth place, as the largest European economy cut investments by 46% last year.
European countries registered USD 48.8 billion in investments in energy from renewable sources, 21% less than in the previous year and the least in nine years, but the volume of new offshore wind power projects rose to a record. Only European markets to also see investment of more than USD 1 billion in 2015 were France, down 63% at USD 2 billion, Turkey, at USD 1.9 billion after USD 1.8 billion in the previous year, and Netherlands, down 82% at USD 1.1 billion. Turkish wind investment was USD 941 million, 19% less than in 2014, and there was one large geothermal project financed, the 170 MW Güriş Holding subsidiary’s Efeler plant.
In some countries, local financing options are plentiful; in others they are few and far between. And some jurisdictions have local regulations that make green energy difficult to develop, even if the natural resource is good – small-scale solar in Turkey being one of the many examples, the report said.
In biomass and waste-to-energy, developed nations dominated last year, with USD 3.9 billion of investment versus USD 2.1 billion in developing countries. There was asset finance of projects in China, Brazil and India, but also in the United States, and the largest chunk of project spending was in Europe. The largest asset financing in geothermal in 2015 was in Turkey. There was a pause in such investment in some developing countries that had seen big financings in previous years, such as Indonesia and Kenya.
Coal and gas-fired generation attracted less than half as much capacity investment as renewables last year, and green energy added more to global generation capacity than all other technologies combined, according to the report.
The 134 GW of renewable power added worldwide in 2015 compares to 106 GW in 2014 and 87 GW in 2013. Were it not for renewables, excluding large hydro, annual global carbon dioxide emissions would have been an estimated 1.5 gigatonnes higher. As in previous years, renewable energy market was dominated by photovoltaics and wind, which together added 118 GW in capacity, compared to the previous record of 94 GW set in 2014. Wind added 62 GW and photovoltaics 56 GW. Last year, 250 MW of utility-scale electricity storage, excluding pumped hydro and lead-acid batteries, was installed worldwide, after 160 MW in 2014.