Nations around the world saw increased commitments to energy alternatives in 2015, as the global community begins its transition towards a post-fossil fuel world order. Renewables accounted for over 53% of total energy generation capacity added around the world in 2015, according to a report released by the UN. It’s the first year renewables have accounted for more than half of total new energy investment.
In all, the globe saw 118GW of wind and solar photovoltaic capacity added in 2015, which the report deems an unprecedented level of interest. Utility-scale solar and wind projects reached $199 billion (USD) in 2015, up 6% over 2014, while small scale distributed capacity investment saw a 12% increase to reach $67.4 billion.
Total investments rose 5% in 2015 and reached $285.9 billion (USD), breaking the previous record for renewable energy investment made in 2011.
Emerging economies took the lead in 2015. The year marks the first in which investments in renewables in developing countries outpaced similar investments in developed nations. Countries in the developing world invested a total of $156 billion (USD) in new renewable energy capacity in 2015, a 19% increase over investment levels in 2014.
For leading nations in the developed world, the story is less optimistic. Investments in clean energy actually decreased in 2015 8% from 2014 levels.
China, India and Brazil led investments in the developing world. China spent much of 2015 ramping up renewable energy capacity; it saw an 18% increase over 2014 in investment, reaching nearly $103 billion (USD) and accounting for a third of all investment in renewables around the globe.
In the developed world, Europe saw a 21% decline in renewable energy investments over 2014 levels to reach $48.8 billion (USD) in 2015. The report noted that’s the lowest amount of investment in Europe in nine years. Europe did, however, see record investments in offshore wind capacity in 2015.
The US saw a 19% increase in investments in renewables over 2014 to reach $44.1 billion (USD), while Japan’s investment in renewables remained flat at $36 billion (USD).
And thanks to clean energy generation, 1.5 gigatonnes of CO2 emissions were prevented in 2015, according to the UN.
Read the full report here.