According to U.N. report, global investment in renewable energy reached a record $257 billion in 2011 (a 17% increase from the amount invested in 2010). Globally, renewable energy covers approximately 16.7% of energy consumption.
- Modern technologies such as solar and wind accounted for just 8.2%,
- the 8.5% is contributed by biomass.
By comparison, more than 80% of electricity consumed worldwide still comes from fossil fuels.
Top 5 Countries for investment in R.E.
China was responsible for almost one-fifth (1/5) of total global investment, spending $52 billion on renewable energy last year. The United States was close behind with investments of $51 billion, as developers sought to benefit from government incentive programs before they expired. Germany, Italy and India rounded out the list of the top five countries.
China’s goal is to have 20% of its total energy demand sourced from renewable energy by 2020.
In 2011, solar power led the way as far as global investment in renewable energy, with investment surging to $147 billion, a year-on-year increase of 52%, due to strong demand for rooftop photovoltaic installations in Germany, Italy, China and Britain. Large-scale solar thermal installations in Spain and the United States also contributed to growth during the year. Wind power investment slipped 12% to $84 billion as a result of uncertainty about energy policy in Europe and fewer new installations in China, according to the report.
Despite the substantial investments in solar energy, the industry is in turmoil. While China pricing has been devastating for American and European solar manufacturers, it has been no less devastating for their Chinese rivals.
The economics for the solar industry, both globally and in China, have never been worse, and there are no bright spots on the horizon. Clearly, solar investments in the United States and Europe will take a hit in 2012. However, the underlying unprofitability of the industry is in sharp conflict with China’s long-term goal to derive 20 percent of its energy needs from renewable energy sources as well. How can the Chinese companies continue to operate in the face of such losses? Will China continue to support the industry’s development?