NEW research shows that growth in renewable energy generation capacity remains robust, despite continuing economic turmoil, cuts in incentives and subsidies and low natural gas prices.
Last year, investment reached a record $211billion in renewables – about a third more than the $160billion invested in 2009, and more than five times the amount invested in 2004.
The influential REN21 report states that growth of wind power in particular continues to drive renewable energy development, but other sectors such as photovoltaics are also seeing strong investment.
“Wind power continues to lead the renewable electricity sector, with more new capacity installed in 2010 than for any other technology,” said Steve Sawyer, Global Wind Energy Council secretary general and member of the REN21 steering committee.
“Equally important to note is that in 2010, for the first time, more wind power was added in developing countries and emerging markets than in the industrialised world.”
Offshore wind, onshore community-based projects and distributed, small-scale grid-connected turbines have enjoyed particular growth.
Average turbine sizes continued to increase in 2010, with some manufacturers launching 5MW and larger turbines, and direct-drive turbine designs captured 18% of the global market.
Crucially, last year, renewable energy supplied an estimated 16% of global final energy consumption and delivered close to 20% of global electricity production.