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Renewable Energy Continues Rapid Global Growth in 2007

Mar 12, 2008 - EERE Network News

The global use of renewable energy sources continued its rapid growth in 2007, with 40 gigawatts of new renewable energy capacity added throughout the world, according to a new report. That capacity growth, which includes large hydropower, brings the world's renewable energy generating capacity to more than a thousand gigawatts. Excluding large hydropower, renewable generating capacity grew by 33 gigawatts to a total of 240 gigawatts, a 16% annual growth rate. At 95 gigawatts, wind power is the largest of the newer renewable energy sources, while grid-connected solar photovoltaic systems increased by 53%, reaching 7.8 gigawatts.

Among other renewable energy sources, ethanol production reached 12 billion gallons, biodiesel production exceeded 2 billion gallons, and there are now enough solar hot water systems to produce 128 gigawatts of thermal energy. The United States now leads the world in new wind capacity added each year and in annual ethanol production, and it also features the largest installed capacities for geothermal and biomass energy power plants.

While the REN21 report estimates last year's investments in renewable energy at $71 billion, analysts at New Energy Finance have increased their estimate to $148.4 billion, more than double the REN21 estimate and a significant increase from New Energy Finance's previous estimate of $117.2 billion, which was released in January. The new figure includes transactions made near the end of the year but not disclosed until more recently, and it reflects a 60% increase over investments in 2006, according to New Energy Finance.