Record growth in renewables in 2016 despite investment wobble

18 May, Frankfurt - Wind, solar and other renewables represented 55% of new electricity generation capacity in 2016 with a record 138.5 gigawatts installed globally, according to a report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

As a result the proportion of electricity from renewable sources rose to 11.3%, up from 10.3% in 2015.

Among other trends, the authors noted a shift in the solar market, where investment is moving away from residential towards large commercial scale projects. There was also a breakthrough of ‘hybrid’ projects, where two technologies such as hydro and solar or wind and solar, are sited at the same location.

The authors considered 2016 to be a turning point for cost competitiveness, with investments in renewables being made overwhelmingly on a market basis, independent of subsidy schemes.

Despite this, investment in renewables actually fell in 2016, to a total of $241 billion. This trend was only bucked in Europe, which experienced a 3% increase. The report authors attributed the global drop in part to a fall in the cost of renewables, with capital expenditure per megawatt down by more than 10% for wind and solar. Slowdowns in China and Japan were also blamed. Investment was predicted to pick up again in 2017 off the back of the Paris climate change agreement.

You can read the annual ‘Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment’ report here.