EU reaches 10% renewables, while global investment grows

Horse Hollow Wind Farm, USA (Credit: GWEC)

The EU reached over 10% renewable energy consumption in 2008, according to figures published by Eurostat earlier this week, while two reports from the United Nations reveal growing global investment.

The Eurostat figures reveal the consumption of renewable energy in the EU’s 27 member states has grown steadily between 2006 and 2008, putting the region half way to reaching its target of 20% by 2020.

Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Austria and Portugal lead the way, with the UK, Netherlands and Belgium trailing at the bottom of the table of renewable energy consumption.

Austria and Portugal were among those countries showing the largest growth in renewables consumption, alongside Estonia, Romania and Slovakia.

The figures back up two other reports out this week from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21).

According to UNEP’s Global Trends in Sustainable Energy Investment 2010 and REN21’s Renewables 2010 Global Status Report, renewables accounted for 60% of newly installed capacity in Europe in 2009 and 50% in the US.

The increase comes despite a 7% fall in investment in 2009 to $162 billion, particularly in large-scale solar power and biofuels. Wind power, in contrast, saw record levels of investment.

Overall, 80 GW of renewable energy capacity was added in 2009, with China reporting the largest increase of 37 GW. China also overtook the US in 2009 in terms of overall investment.

“The sustainable energy investment story of 2009 was one of resilience, frustration and determination,” says UN Under-Secretary-General Achim Steiner.

“There remains however a serious gap between the ambition and the science in terms of where the world needs to be in 2020 to avoid dangerous climate change.”

That gap is not unbridgeable, he says, and heart can be taken from the fact that the renewables sector continues to buck the economic trend.

What is needed now is a massive scale-up of renewable technologies, adds Mohamed El-Ashry, chair of REN21.

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Related stories:
Spain overtakes US as world leader in solar thermal power (15-Jul)
IEA reports first signs of “energy technology revolution” (6-Jul)
Europe’s renewable electricity generation nearly hits 20% (6-Jul)
EU over half way to 20% cut in emissions by 2020 (7-Jun)

Horse Hollow Wind Farm, USA (Credit: GWEC)

16 July 2010