Cleaner Energy for the Planet

Published on Thursday, 16 April 2015

Last year, green installed capacity (excluding large hydro projects) increased by 103GW, a hit record, (for a comparison, 86GW were put into service in 2013 and 89GW in 2012), avoiding the emission of 1.3 billion tons of CO2.

Two key factors have encouraged the growth of renewables worldwide: the sharp recovery in investment spending after two years of slowdown (amounting in a 17 percent increase compared to 2013, for a total investment of $270.2 billion US dollars) and the decline in clean tech costs. The increasingly positive role of renewables in the global energy sector was highlighted in the last edition of Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2015, drawn up by the Frankfurt School, UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), Centre for Climate and Sustainable Energy Finance and Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

The recovery was driven by solar PV projects: $149.6 billion were invested (+25 per cent compared to 2013), adding a new installed capacity of 46 GW. A major role was played by small-scale distributed generation (rooftop PV installations) which attracted about half of the investments. The wind power sector also recorded a positive performance: $99.5 billion were invested in this sector, with an 11 percent increase and a new installed capacity of 49 GW.

Other sources decreased, including biomass and waste-to-energy (-10 percent to $8.4 billion), biofuels (-7 percent to $5.1 billion) and small hydro (plants up to 50 MW, which dropped by 17 percent to $4.5 billion). A considerable increase in investor attention was recorded in both the geothermal sector, which grew by 23 percent to $3 billion in investments, and the marine power sector, with a 110 percent rise for a total of $0.4 billion.  

The countries involved include China, which saw by far the greatest investments in renewable energy in 2014 with a record $83.3 billion (+39 percent compared to 2013), followed by the United States with $38.3 billion and Japan with $35.7 billion. Developing countries also saw positive results with $131.3 billion and a 36 percent increase. The top ten investing countries also included Brazil ($7.6 billion), India ($7.4 billion) and South Africa ($5.5 billion), while Indonesia, Chile, Mexico, Kenya and Turkey invested more than one billion each.

With its recently presented 2015-2019 Strategic Plan, the Enel Group is set on focusing on the development of renewables and small-scale - and therefore more sustainable - plants. The Group aims to strengthen its presence in this sector through Enel Green Power, leveraging on growth prospects thanks to its diversified mix of technologies and geographies. The new plan foresees a 50 percent increase in the total additional capacity (7.1 GW in the five-year period) compared to the previous year, to be developed mostly in Latin America, North America and Africa. About half of EGP's investments will be allocated to Chile, Mexico and Brazil, where the company is already installing 30 percent of additional green capacity.