The World’s New Energy Right Now Global Trends In Renewable Energy Investment 2020
July 2020 (Frankfurt School, United Nations Environment Program, BloombergNEF)
-Governments and companies around the world have committed to adding some 826 gigawatts of new non-hydro renewable power capacity in the decade to 2030, at a likely cost of around $1 trillion. Those commitments fall far short of what would be needed to limit world temperature increases to less than 2 degrees Celsius. They also look modest compared to the $2.7 trillion invested during the 2010-2019 decade, as recorded by this Global Trends report.
-The Covid-19 crisis has slowed down deal-making in renewables in recent months, along with that in other sectors, and this will affect investment levels in 2020. However, governments now have the chance to tailor their economic recovery programs to accelerate the phase-out of polluting processes and the adoption of cost-competitive sustainable technologies.
-The stakes are high. If this chance is missed, it may be even more difficult to find the funding to decarbonize the energy system in a postCovid-19 global economy characterized by elevated government debt and squeezed private sector finances.
-In 2019, the amount of new renewable power capacity added (excluding large hydro) was the highest ever, at 184 gigawatts, 20GW more than in 2018. This included 118GW of new solar systems, and 61GW of wind turbines. n Falling costs meant that this record commissioning of green gigawatts could happen in a year when dollar investment in renewable energy capacity stayed almost flat. In 2019, renewable energy capacity investment was $282.2 billion, just 1% higher than the previous year.
-Capacity investment in solar slipped 3% to $131.1 billion in 2019, while that in wind climbed 6% to $138.2 billion – the first time that wind has outweighed solar in terms of dollars committed since 2010. Falling capital costs, and a further slowdown in China’s PV market, held back the solar total.
-Investment in offshore wind hit its highest ever, at $29.9 billion, up 19% year-on-year thanks to a fourth-quarter surge, most notably in China but also in France – the first financial close in its offshore program – and the U.K. The year saw Taiwan secure its first three financings for seabased arrays.
-The U.S. edged ahead of Europe in terms of renewables investment last year. The U.S. invested $55.5 billion, up 28%, helped by a record rush of onshore wind financings to take advantage of tax credits before their expected expiry, while Europe committed $54.6 billion, down 7%.
-Developing countries continued to outpace developed economies in renewables investment. In 2019, they committed $152.2 billion, compared to $130 billion for developed countries. But there was a shift in the mix, with China and India both slipping back, while ‘other developing countries’ jumped 17% to a record $59.5 billion. Included in the latter figure was the largest financing ever in the solar sector: $4.3 billion for the Al Maktoum IV solar thermal and photovoltaic complex in Dubai.
-Once again, renewables dwarfed conventional generation sources in terms of both capacity additions and investment. Nearly 78% of the net gigawatts of generating capacity added globally in 2019 were in wind, solar, biomass and waste, geothermal and small hydro. Investment in renewables excluding large hydro was more than three times that in new fossil fuel plants.
-Renewable technologies (excluding large hydro) raised their share of global generation to 13.4% in 2019, from 12.4% in 2018 and just 5.9% in 2009. That share is increasing slowly because of the large, established fossil fuel fleet. However, that amount of renewable electricity production last year was enough to prevent the emission of an estimated 2.1 gigatonnes of CO2.
-The all-in, or levelized, cost of electricity continued to fall for wind and solar, thanks to technology improvements, economies of scale and fierce competition in auctions. For solar PV, it stood in the second half of 2019 some 83% lower than a decade earlier, while the equivalent reductions for onshore and offshore wind were 49% and 51% respectively.
The Impact of 2030 Targets
-This Focus Chapter of the Global Trends report looks ahead to the new decade, and the additions in renewable energy capacity that are implied by official government targets and company voluntary targets. It compares those extra gigawatts with what would be required to bring global power system emissions into line with the need to limit climate change. It also looks at some specific targets to bring low-carbon alternatives into other parts of the energy system, such as heat and transport.
-Renewable energy 2030 targets already written into official policy by 87 governments around the world would mean the construction of an estimated 721 gigawatts of new capacity in wind, solar and other non-hydro renewable power technologies over the next decade, according to analysis by BloombergNEF.
-Meanwhile, those private sector companies that have joined the RE100 group, pledging to source 100% of their power from renewables, will need to buy an estimated 210 terawatt-hours of green electricity by 2030, on top of what they consume now, in order to be on track. This could prompt the construction of an estimated 105 gigawatts of new wind and solar plants.
-Taken together, these commitments by governments and companies would imply 826GW of new capacity. This could entail around $1 trillion of investment globally during the next 10 years, or an average of $100 billion per year.
-However, the targets above – and the implied investment – are only a fraction of what would be required to put the world on a path to reduce carbon dioxide emissions sufficiently to limit temperature increases to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, as stated in the Paris Agreement. This message of a shortfall in ambition is in tune with the message of the latest UNEP Emission Gap report.1
-The 2030 targets are also modest compared to what has already been done. As shown in Chapter 1 of this report, in the decade 2010-2019, the world added 1,213 gigawatts of renewable power capacity (excluding large hydro-electric dams), investing nearly $2.7 trillion
The beginning of a new decade provides an opportunity for the Global Trends report to feature this forward-looking chapter. True to the report’s established role, the usual analysis of renewable energy investment in the year just past is contained in the subsequent Chapters 1 to 7.
This chapter looks at the amount of new renewable power capacity that will need to be built in the years up to 2030 to meet the official targets of governments around the world, and then at the additional amount implied by targets set by private sector companies. It then compares those numbers with what would be necessary to meet international climate goals… Tweet