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The number of emerging economies with policies to support the expansion of renewable energy has increased more than sixfold in just eight years, from 15 developing countries in 2005 to 95 in early 2014.
These 95 developing nations represent the vast majority of the 144 countries with supportive policies and defined quantitative targets for renewable energy. The greater support in developing countries contrasts with its reduction, with the uncertainty in renewable public policies and even with retroactive reductions in support in some European countries and the United States.
The 2014 report, presented at the UN Sustainable Energy for All forum in New York, gives a central role to support policies in achieving the new record in electricity capacity from renewable energy, which reached last year to 1,560GW, representing 8.3% more than in 2012. More than 22% of the world's electricity production now comes from renewable sources.
An estimated 6.5 million people worked directly or indirectly in the renewable energy sector in 2013.
Among the highlights of the report are the following:
- Last year renewables represented more than 56% of the net addition of global electricity capacity
- Hydroelectricity increased by 4% reaching about 1,000 GW of installed capacity in 2013, which represents close to a third of the renewable electricity capacity added during the year. The growth of the other renewable sources was 17% to reach about 560 GW.
- Renewable energy covered 19% of global final energy consumption in 2012, growth that was sustained in 2013. Modern renewable sources represent 10% while the remaining 9% was covered by traditional biomass, whose share is declining.
- Worldwide, for the first time, more solar photovoltaic (PV) electrical capacity was installed than wind power.
- Although global investment in solar PV declined by about 22% compared to 2012, new installations increased 27%. The solar PV market had a record year, adding about 38GW in 2013 to reach a total of approximately 138 GW.
- A third of the new capacity was concentrated in China, which means spectacular growth, followed by Japan and the United States.
- China, the United States, Brazil, Canada and Germany remain the leading countries in total renewable electricity installed capacity.
- In terms of new electricity capacity, renewable sources surpassed fossil and nuclear sources in China for the first time.
- A growing number of cities, states and regions seek to move towards 100% renewable energy, either in individual sectors or in their entire economies. For example, Djibouti, Scotland and the small island state of Tuvalu have a goal that by 2020 100% of their electricity will be generated from renewable sources.
- Uruguay, Mauritania and Costa Rica are among the leading countries in terms of investment per unit of GDP allocated to electricity and fuels from new renewable sources. During 2013, more than 35 GW of wind energy were incorporated, totaling about 318 GW. However, despite several record years, the market declined by around 10 GW compared to 2012, mainly reflecting the sharp decline in the North American market.
- Offshore wind plants had a record year, with an additional 1.6 GW, located almost entirely in the European Union.
- Heating and air conditioning from modern biomass, solar and geothermal sources accounted for a small but growing fraction of the final global heat demand, estimated at 10%.
- The new global investment in electricity and renewable fuels was at least 249.4 billion dollars in 2013, decreasing 14% compared to 2012 and 23% compared to the record registered in 2011.
"The global perception regarding renewable energy has changed considerably," says Arthouros Zervos, president of REN21. "In the last 10 years the continuous technological advances and the rapid deployment of many renewable energy technologies have shown that the question is no longer whether they play a role in the provision of energy services, but rather what is the best way to increase the current pace to reach a future with 100% renewables, in which everyone has access to energy. For this to be a reality, it is necessary to change current thinking: it is no longer enough to maintain the status quo of policy patches and Actions"