2010 Renewables Global Status Report

Global Renewable Capacity Continues to Grow in 2009 Fueled by Policy and Ongoing Investment

REN21 is pleased to release its annual publication – the Renewables 2010 Global Status Report together with its twin report, UNEP’s annual Global Trends in Sustainable Energy Investment 2010 report.

The year 2009 was unprecedented in the history of renewable energy, despite the headwinds posed by the global financial crisis, lower oil prices, and slow progress with climate policy. Indeed, as other economic sectors declined around the world, existing renewable capacity continued to grow at rates close to those in previous years, including grid-connected solar PV (53 %), wind power (32 %), solar hot water/heating (21 %), geothermal power (4 %), and hydropower (3 %). Annual production of ethanol and biodiesel increased 10 % and 9 %, respectively, despite layoffs and ethanol plant closures in the United States and Brazil.

Highlights of 2009 include:

* For the second year in a row, in both the United States and Europe, more renewable power capacity was added than conventional power capacity (coal, gas, nuclear). Renewables accounted for 60 % of newly installed power capacity in Europe in 2009, and nearly 20 % of annual power production.

* China added 37 GW of renewable power capacity, more than any other country in the world, to reach 226 GW of total renewables capacity. Globally, nearly 80 GW of renewable capacity was added, including 31 GW of hydro and 48 GW of non-hydro capacity.

* Wind power additions reached a record high of 38 GW. China was the top market, with 13.8 GW added, representing more than one-third of the world market — up from just a 2 % market share in 2004. The United States was second, with 10 GW added. The share of wind power generation in several countries reached record highs, including 6.5 % in Germany and 14 % in Spain.

* Solar PV additions reached a record high of 7 GW. Germany was the top market, with 3.8 GW added, or more than half the global market. Other large markets were Italy, Japan, the United States, Czech Republic, and Belgium. Spain, the world leader in 2008, saw installations plunge to a low level in 2009 after a policy cap was exceeded.

* Many countries saw record biomass use. Notable was Sweden, where biomass accounted for a larger share of energy supply than oil for the first time.

* Biofuels production contributed the energy equivalent of 5 % of world gasoline output.

* Almost all renewable energy industries experienced manufacturing growth in 2009, despite the continuing global economic crisis, although many capital expansion plans were scaled back or postponed. Impaired access to equity markets, difficulty in obtaining finance, and industry consolidations negatively affected almost all companies.

* Nearly 11 GW of solar PV was produced, a 50 % increase over 2008. First Solar (USA) became the first firm ever to produce over 1 GW in a single year. Major crystalline module price declines took place, by 50–60 % by some estimates, from highs of $3.50 per watt in 2008 to lows approaching $2 per watt.

* Wind power received more than 60 % of utility-scale renewables investment in 2009 (excluding small projects), due mostly to rapid expansion in China.

* Investment totals in utility-scale solar PV declined relative to 2008, partly an artifact of large drops in the costs of solar PV. However, this decline was offset by record investment in small-scale (rooftop) solar PV projects.

* Investment in new biofuels plants declined from 2008 rates, as corn ethanol production capacity was not fully utilized in the United States and several firms went bankrupt. The Brazilian sugar ethanol industry likewise faced economic troubles, with no growth despite ongoing expansion plans. Europe faced similar softening in biodiesel, with low production capacity utilization.

* “Green stimulus” efforts since late-2008 by many of the world’s major economies totaled close to $200 billion, although most stimulus was slow to start and less than 10 % of green stimulus funds was spent during 2009.

* By 2009, over 85 countries had some type of policy target, up from 45 countries in 2005. Many national targets are for shares of electricity production, typically 5–30 percent, but range as high as 90 percent. Other targets are for shares of total primary or final energy supply (typically 10–20 percent), specific installed capacities of various technologies, or total amounts of energy production from renewables. Most recent targets aim for 2020 and beyond. Many targets also exist at the state, provincial, and local levels.

* At least 83 countries have some type of policy to promote renewable power generation. The most common policy is the feed-in tariff, which has been enacted in many new countries and regions in recent years. By early 2010, at least 50 countries and 25 states/provinces had feed-in tariffs, more than half of these adopted only since 2005. Strong momentum for feed-in tariffs continues around the world as countries continue to establish or revise policies. States and provinces have been adopting feed-in tariffs in increasing numbers as well.

* Renewable energy has an important role in providing modern energy access to the billions of people in developing countries that continue to depend on more traditional sources of energy, both for households and small industries. The number of rural households served by renewable energy is difficult to estimate, but runs into the tens of millions considering all forms of renewables. Micro-hydro configured into village-scale or county-scale mini-grids serves many of these. More than 30 million households get lighting and cooking from biogas made in household-scale digesters. An estimated 3 million households get power from small solar PV systems. Biomass cookstoves are used by 40 percent of the world’s population.

Helene Pelosse Direktor General IRENA

3. december 2009

A Climate for Renewables

There will be many hills to climb before we reach our renewable energy goals.

by Hélène Pelosse, IRENA

London, UK [Renewable Energy World Magazine]

Hiking is one of my favorite outdoor activities. Twenty years ago, my father and I went on a trip to explore several glaciers. It was a special experience for us, and one of my fondest memories. So you can imagine my horror to see recent photos of these very same glaciers that showed how much they had receded. Just 20 years ago, they were majestic examples of the Earth’s natural beauty. Now, they are case studies of a planet in crisis.

Sadly, my story is not an isolated tale. There is no shortage of predictions about what the world will look like in the future if carbon emissions continue to rise. All of them are negative. Glaciers will melt. Species will become extinct. And extreme weather conditions will proliferate.

Yet, despite these grim prognostications, there is reason for hope. As the dangers of climate change become more readily apparent, the international community is joining together to explore the opportunities in this crisis. In fact, the creation of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is just one example of this new spirit of global cooperation.

From my office chair at IRENA’s headquarters in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), I have been fortunate to witness this phenomenon first hand. The fact that IRENA is based in one of the world’s most important oil producing countries sends a powerful message to the world that we can not rely on the energies of the past to power the future.

IRENA is the first intergovernmental organization tasked with providing support and advice to its member states on implementing effective framework conditions for the transition towards a new era of increased renewable energy, and I’m grateful to have a front row seat for the proceedings.

I believe the turn towards renewable energy will be as influential as the Industrial Revolution. I am not the only one who thinks so. This is why so many countries have joined IRENA. Our organization has grown quickly, and the sheer size of our member roster is telling. We launched in January 2009, the initial idea coming from Germany, then Spain and Denmark joined in. Over the year, almost 50 countries got involved in the founding process. By the autumn of 2009, dozens more had signed on, bringing the total number of IRENA member states to 137. The United Nations has 192. It’s difficult to believe that when IRENA first began, some of us thought it would be a success to have 30 countries on board.

It is clear that many countries are ready to embrace renewable energy. Although renewables are only one approach to mitigating the complex challenge of global warming, it is one of the best strategies we have. The spin-off benefits of a renewable powered future are simply too good to ignore. By their very nature, renewable energies are secure, affordable, easily accessible, and clean. And because of these traits, it can preserve the environment and protect our climate. It can boost economic growth and create local jobs that will lead to regional development. It can even increase social cohesion and make the world’s energy supplies more secure.

Renewable energy technology is progressing by leaps and bounds. Research and development in green technology is no longer restricted to European countries such as Germany, Spain, and Denmark. Just last year, for example, China surpassed Japan as the world’s leading producer of photovoltaic cells.

Remember when computers were so rare that only scientific researchers had access to them? Or perhaps you might recall when brick-sized mobile phones were so expensive that they belonged only to Hollywood producers and investment bankers. As with all technology, prices of renewable equipment are bound to come down as these products become more mainstream and manufacturers achieve economies of scale. I would not be surprised if renewable technologies become so common that we are able to purchase small-scale versions for our homes in supermarkets very soon.

Earlier this year, at least 64 countries had policies to promote renewable power generation. India recently announced an ambitious Solar Plan aiming to generate 20 GW from sunlight by 2020, starting from its current 2.12 MW. The EU has set a target of 20% renewable power by 2020 and is currently drafting legislation to support this goal.

With the advances in technology and the plans in place, we are starting to see incredibly ambitious projects take form. South Africa is developing a 100-MW concentrating solar power project. Norway will be opening the world’s first osmotic power plant outside Oslo as REW goes to press. In Bangladesh, as of March 2009, the renewable energy company Grameen Shakti had installed more than 220,000 solar home systems in rural areas that turn houses into small power plants. Morocco and India both have plans to create preferential zones for renewable energy technology production. And in IRENA’s back yard in the oil-producing UAE, the city of Masdar plans to establish a similar renewable energy technology zone.

The world’s renewable energy sector will grow. We have already seen an increase in the production of renewable energy over the last decade. Last year, both the United States and the European Union added more power capacity from renewables than from conventional sources. And consider this: an estimated US$120 billion was invested in renewable energy worldwide in 2008, almost double the $63 billion invested in 2006.

All of these developments are taking place at an important time in world history. Science has shown that we must change the way we produce and consume energy or face a future ravaged by warmer temperatures.

Current methods of energy generation produce negative effects that are rarely shown on our utility bills, but all of society pays for them. What we emit into the atmosphere today will influence the planet for decades to come and possibly far longer, affecting generations to come.

There is an even more pragmatic reason for pursuing a renewable energy future. Renewables could provide an unlimited supply to meet the needs of the estimated 10 billion humans that will inhabit Earth by 2050. Renewable energy’s greatest benefit is perhaps that it is accessible for every country in the world. Most regions of the globe have access to resources such as sun, wind, water, biomass, agricultural residue, or the Earth’s heat. We have begun to harness these resources in new and exciting ways that help countries all around the world help themselves.

We have already seen what happens when creative people design things that take advantage of renewable power. This innovation has resulted in products such as solar home systems in Ethiopia or eco-friendly cooking stoves in India. Many more innovative products are on the way. Around the world, entrepreneurs are hard at work developing clever market-based solutions that deliver safe and affordable energy to the 1.6 billion people without access to electricity, a market estimated at $500 billion.

In addition to helping alleviate conditions of poverty, the renewable energy transformation allows developing countries to avoid making some of the mistakes industrialized nations have made in the past. Developing nations can leap over interim technologies that were adopted and then discarded in favor of more efficient advances. It also allows industrialized countries to produce energy in a sustainable manner, harvesting resources at their doorsteps. Furthermore, renewables will advance technological sectors around the world and create a new class of knowledge worker. The future looks bright for us all.

In many ways, this transition is much like the hiking and climbing I enjoy so much. The journey won’t be easy, and it must be taken one step at a time. There are bound to be innumerable peaks and valleys to pass through. But just as a group of climbers eventually reaches a summit and gets to see the spectacular surroundings from the top, the international community will also get to see a whole new world.

As a mother of three, I want to help create a world I will be proud to pass along to my children. And I know others who are equally passionate about renewable energy. The transition to clean energy is an enormous challenge and an unprecedented opportunity. History shows that humanity is capable of great achievements: climbing to a renewable energy future will be its greatest legacy.

Hélène Pelosse is the interim director general of IRENA