November 06, 2005
Renewable Energy Markets Show Strong Growth - REN21 Releases "Renewables 2005: Global Status Report"
Beijing—Global investment in renewable energy set a new record of $30 billion in 2004, according to a report released today by the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21). Technologies such as wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, and small hydro now provide 160 gigawatts of electricity generating capacity, about 4 percent of the world total, the report finds.
"Renewable energy has become big business," said Eric Martinot, lead author of Renewables 2005: Global Status Report. Martinot, who is a Senior Fellow at the Worldwatch Institute and a Lecturer at Tsinghua University in Beijing, notes that renewable energy is attracting some of the world's largest companies, including General Electric, Siemens, Sharp, and Royal Dutch Shell. The report estimates that nearly 40 million households worldwide heat their water with solar collectors, most of them installed in the last five years. Altogether, renewable energy industries provide 1.7 million jobs, most of them skilled and well-paying.
The Global Status Report was compiled by Martinot, working with more than 100 researchers and contributors from at least 20 countries. It provides an assessment of several renewables technologies—small hydro, modern biomass, wind, solar, geothermal, and biofuels—that are now competing with conventional fuels in four distinct markets: power generation, hot water and space heating, transportation fuels, and rural (off-grid) energy supplies.
The report finds that government support for renewable energy is growing rapidly. At least 48 countries now have some type of renewable energy promotion policy, including 14 developing countries. Most targets are for shares of electricity production, typically 5-30 percent, by the 2010-2012 timeframe. Mandates for blending biofuels into vehicle fuels have been enacted in at least 20 states and provinces worldwide as well as in three key countries—Brazil, China and India.
Government leadership provides the key to market success, according to the report. The market leaders in renewable energy in 2004 were Brazil in biofuels, China in solar hot water, Germany in solar electricity, and Spain in wind power.
Other findings in the report include:
The Global Status Report fills a gap in the international energy reporting arena, which has tended to neglect the emerging renewable energy technologies. Regular updates will be produced in the future. The report was produced and published by the Worldwatch Institute and released today at the Beijing International Renewable Energy Conference 2005, sponsored by the Government of China. This Conference brings together government and private leaders from around the world, providing a forum for international leadership on renewable energy and connects the wide variety of stakeholders that came together at the International Conference for Renewable Energies in Bonn, Germany, in 2004.
The creation of REN21 was sponsored by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. Formally established in Copenhagen in June 2005, REN21 is now supported by a steering committee of 11 governments, 5 intergovernmental organizations, 5 non-governmental organizations, and several regional, local, and private organizations.
Note to Editors: About REN 21: REN21 is a global policy network aimed at providing a forum for international leadership on renewable energy. Composed of representatives of governments as well as non-governmental organizations, REN21's goal is to support the rapid expansion of renewable energy use in developing and industrial countries by bolstering policy development and decision-making on sub-national, national, and international levels. To download a copy of the report and to access the extensive footnotes that provide supporting data and additional information, please visit www.ren21.net.