Renewable energy produced 20% of 2010 global electricity

By Renewable Energy Focus staff

At the same time, global investment in renewable energy increased more than 20% to US$211 billion and renewable energy capacity now accounts for about a quarter of global power generating capacity if including hydropower.

In terms of added capacity, renewable energy accounted for around half of total added power capacity in 2010.

Excluding hydropower, the top five countries for renewable energy capacity were: The US, China, Germany, Spain and India.

Solar and wind

Solar photovoltaics (PV) more than doubled and Germany installed more solar PV in 2010 than was installed globally in 2009. Solar PV in the US and Japan almost doubled from 2009 levels. Over 100 countries saw solar PV capacity additions.

Wind accounted for most of the electricity capacity, although in Europe, more solar was installed than wind.

Steve Sawyer, Secretary General of the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and a Member of REN21’s Steering Committee, says: “Wind power continues to lead the renewable electricity sector, with more new capacity installed in 2010 than for any other technology.

“Equally important to note is that in 2010 for the first time, more wind power was added in developing countries and emerging markets than in the industrialised world.”

GWEC says average wind turbine sizes are continuing to grow and that direct drive designs have now captured 18% of the global market.

Policy and investment

By the beginning of 2011, 119 countries had some sort of policy target or renewable energy support policy – more than half of these are in the developing world.

Investment in renewable energy companies and in utility-scale generation and biofuel projects reached US$143bn – China alone attracted a third of this with US$48.5bn.

For small-scale installations, Germany, Italy and the US led the way.

Developing world

“The increased renewable energy activity in developing countries highlighted in this year’s report is very encouraging, since most of the future growth in energy demand is expected to occur in developing countries,” says Mohamed El-Ashry, Chairman of REN21’s Steering Committee.

“More and more of the word’s people are gaining access to energy services through renewables, not only to meet their basic needs, but also to enable them to develop economically.”

Developing countries accounted for over half of global renewable energy power.

Country and regional highlights

The US saw about 10.9% of its domestic primary energy production coming from renewable energy sources in 2010 – nuclear accounted for 11.3%. 30 US states now have Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS).

China led the installation of wind and solar thermal power and was the top hydropower producer in 2010. China added around 29 GW of grid-connected renewable energy capacity bringing its total to 252 GW. Renewable energy accounted for about 26% of the country’s total installed electricity capacity, 18% of generation and over 9% of final energy supply.

Brazil continued to be the producer of almost all of the world’s sugar-derived ethanol. The country also added more hydropower, biomass and wind power plants, as well as solar heating systems.

In the EU, renewable energy accounted for about 41% of new installed electricity capacity and exceeded its 2010 targets for wind, solar PV, CSP, and solar heating and heat pumps.

REN21 has in connection with its annual renewable energy report, also published a Renewables Interactive Map.