Canadian Consulting Engineer
U.S. and Europe add more renewable energy than coal, gas and nuclearEnergy Green, Alternative Energy
From "Renewable Energy at the Tipping Point," an article by Christopher Flavin, president of the Worldwatch In...
From “Renewable Energy at the Tipping Point,” an article by Christopher Flavin, president of the Worldwatch Institute of Washington, D.C., published in its July 26 newsletter.
“No longer a mere suggestion of what might be, renewable energy is hitting a tipping point, with far-reaching implications. For the first time, understanding the scale and patterns of renewable energy development has become essential to any full analysis of trends that will shape the global energy economy and the health of the planet.
That is the story told by a new report that the Worldwatch Institute helped research and write: the Renewables Global Status Report 2010. Produced by the REN21 network of governments, NGOs, and industry associations, the report paints a remarkable picture of a booming new economic sector that has powered its way through a deep global recession, emerging stronger than ever.
Buoyed by hundreds of new government energy policies, accelerating private investment, and myriad technology advances over the past five years, renewable energy is breaking into the mainstream of energy markets. Over the past two years, the United States and Europe have both added more power capacity from renewables than from coal, gas, and nuclear combined, according to the report. Worldwide, renewables accounted for one-third of the new generating capacity added.
Renewable energy, including hydropower, now provides 18 percent of total net electricity generation worldwide. Meanwhile, biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel are making inroads in the transportation fuels market and are now equal to about 5 percent of world gasoline production. And in China, more than 150 million people heat at least some of their water using solar hot water systems.
The economic weight of the renewable energy sector is now large enough to attract many of the world’s largest and most powerful companies, from GE and Siemens to unlikely players such as Samsung and Google. Renewable energy investment of $150 billion worldwide in 2009 was the equivalent of nearly 40 percent of annual investment in the upstream oil and gas industry, which topped $380 billion.
Changes in government policy are responsible for most of these advances. In 2009 alone, 10 national and state governments enacted policies giving renewable power generation access to the grid at prices set by policymakers, bringing the number of governments with such policies to 70. Altogether, the number of countries with policies to encourage renewable energy has increased from 55 in 2005 to 100 in 2010. “
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