Renewable Power Generation - 2012 figures

China was the hotspot for renewable energy with an investment of $67.7bn in 2012, 20% up on the previous year thanks to a surge in its solar sector.
China was the hotspot for renewable energy with an investment of $67.7bn in 2012, 20% up on the previous year thanks to a surge in its solar sector.

About the article: This special Renewable Energy Focus power generation focus previews REMIPEG's latest update, carried out in the first four months of 2013 by Lahmeyer International, and presents an overview for each renewable power sector, based on scenarios up to the end of 2012.

This article is taken from the July/August 2013 issue of Renewable Energy Focus (REFocus) magazine. For a free subscription, click here.

Part one - Summary (see below).

Part two - China continued its dominance of the global hydropower market

Part three - New markets for solar thermal power gain some momentum

Part four - Support grows for Ocean Energy

Part five - Rush for PTC saw the US edge China out of wind market lead in 2012

Part six - US still dominated the electricity from biomass world market in 2012

Part seven - 2012 was average year of growth for geothermal but showed potential...


Lahmeyer International's latest REMIPEG update (covering 2012 installations of renewable power capacity) concludes that new additions of renewable power capacity totalled 112GW in 2012, taking global cumulative installed renewable electricity capacity to 1,592GW - with an estimated annual power generation output of 4547-4811TWh a year (See download section opposite for additional charts).

Over the past decade, the demand for renewable energy worldwide has experienced an increase as a result of various factors associated with environmental, political and economic issues. However, the economic crisis which started in earnest in 2009 has left many governments facing a catastrophic situation of high public debt. In many cases, this has led to cuts or removal, immediately or gradually, of incentives for the generation of electricity from renewable sources.

According to the 2012 Q4 Clean Energy Policy & Market Briefing from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), clean energy investment worldwide fell 11% in 2012 $268.7bn from a revised figure of $302.3bn in 2011. The biggest dip was in Spain where investment fell 68% to just $3bn as its government announced a moratorium on subsidies for projects not yet approved. In Italy the drop was 51% to $14.7bn, mainly because of regulatory changes in solar subsidies. In India investment fell 44% while in the USA it fell 32%.

“Policy uncertainty, market overcapacity, and tighter credit conditions in some nations were all to blame, but declining wind, solar, and other equipment costs also played a major role,” the BNEF briefing says. “Despite the significant investment drop, new clean energy generating capacity actually deployed appears to have risen in 2012.”

China was the hotspot for renewable energy with an investment of $67.7bn in 2012, 20% up on the previous year “thanks to a surge in its solar sector”. BNEF says: “Its total was more than 50% above that of the second-placed country, the United States, with $44.2bn.”

Two other key players were South Africa and Japan. South Africa, saw investment leap to $5.5bn, from just a few tens of millions in 2011, as its tender process for wind and solar led to a string of large project financings, BNEF notes. Meantime in Japan the fresh emphasis on renewable power after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 and the start of a new subsidy programme helped investment soar 75% in 2012 to $16.3bn.

Shifting markets

Geographic diversification of investment continued in 2012. “The Asia Oceania (ASOC) region overtook EMEA to account for the largest share of total investment,” BNEF says. “The Americas (AMER) trailed far behind.” Moreover, there continues to be a considerable shift from industrial countries to developing and emerging countries: “Brazil, South Africa, India and China – the “BASIC” countries – attracted a record 35% of all investments. Meanwhile, non-BASIC/non-OECD countries received 9% of all funds invested,” the BNEF briefing points out.

Investment in industrial countries fell 29% to $132bn, whereas investments in developing and emerging countries increased 19% to $112bn. Just one year ago, the industrial countries invested 2.5 times as much in renewable energies as developing and emerging countries.

The final globally installed capacity of renewable energy for electricity generation is shown in table (previous page). Cumulative installed renewable power capacity grew from 1460GW in 2011 to 1591GW by end 2012. As can be seen, for 2012 the growth rate for the wind power market was moderate again; it is evident this is now firmly a mature market with one digit growth rates, although it remains the leader in terms of new installed capacity and occupies the second position in terms of cumulative capacity.

Hydropower remains by far the largest renewable energy technology with more than three times the cumulative capacity of the wind sector. In fact, hydro constitutes 70% of the total installed renewables capacity and around the 73-77% of all electricity generated by renewables.

All technologies showed growth in newly installed power capacity except hydropower and biomass. The largest growth rate came from concentrated solar power (CSP) technology; however, since the CSP market is still one of the smallest renewable energy markets, the impact of this on the overall renewable electricity market growth is not very visible.

Altogether, due to reductions in newly installed hydro and biomass capacity, total newly installed renewable electricity capacity dropped down by 6%, compared to 2011. Nevertheless, this capacity fall is still smaller than the overall investment decline in the sector: A clear sign that every year more megawatts can be installed per Euro investment, due to the positive trend of cost reductions in renewable installations.

In conclusion, the final figures show that by end 2012 annual electricity generation output from renewables was 4542-4806TWh. If we assume a 5% increase in total electricity generation in 2012, the above estimated total annual electricity generation from renewables represents a 19.5% share of total global electricity supply. Related to the total primary energy consumption world-wide, this represents a contribution of around 3%.

Installed global power capacity of renewable energy technologies for grid-connected power generation, and estimated annual energy generation in 2011
Renewable energy source Cumulative installed capacity - end 2012 (GW) New installed capacity 2012 (GW) Growth rate of cumulated installed capacity 2012 (%) Growth rate of newly-installed capacity; % (2012 v 2011) Estimated electricity generation in 2012 (TWh/y)
Hydropower 1,126.5 29.6  3 <0 3,524
Wind power 281.2 44.9  20 7.7 570
Solar PV 93.4 28.0  43 1.9 109
Solar CSP 2.4 0.7  42 75 4.7
Biomass power(a) 76 8  12 <0 265-529
Geothermal power 11.6 0.4  3 0 73
Ocean & Tidal energy 0.5 0  0 <0 1.2
World total 1,592 112  7.5  -6 4,547 - 4,811

Part two - China continued its dominance of the global hydropower market

The REMIPEG databank

With its Renewable Electricity Market, Installed Power and Annual Electricity Generation (REMIPEG), German engineering firm Lahmeyer International has tracked the implementation of renewable electricity capacity around the world since 2008, updating its database annually, with Renewable Energy Focus then publishing the results.

Providing totals for newly installed plant, cumulative capacity, and estimated electricity generation output, country-by-country, for each renewable energy generation source, the databank is compiled using publicly available information along with expert information from consultants in the field.

The authors of the REMIPEG report are Dr. Andreas Wiese, Dr. Patric Kleineidam, Kuno Schallenberg, Florian Remann, Thorben Gunkel, Camilo Varas, Holger Zebner, Gildas Courtet, and Sergi Pedra from Lahmeyer International GmbH; Andrea Stooßa from the Institute of Environmental Technology and Energy Economics, Hamburg University of Technology, and Stadtreinigung Hamburg; and Martin Kaltschmitt, also from the Institute of Environmental Technology and Energy Economics, Hamburg University of Technology.