Worldwatch is happy to announce the launch of the much anticipated 2012 REN21 Renewables Global Status Report (GSR). GSR 2012 details worldwide developments in the renewable energy sector through 2011. The report highlights a number of key developments, including market and industry trends, investment flows, the shifting policy landscape, advancements in rural renewable energy deployment, and the evolving synergy between renewable energy and energy efficiency.

REN21 Renewable 2012 Global Status Report (source: REN21)

The new GSR data highlights many remarkable worldwide trends, demonstrating that the renewable energy sector has emerged from the global finical crisis stronger than ever. In 2011, new investment and added power generation capacity for renewables broke their all-time records yet again. Global investments in renewables were estimated at US $257 billion in 2011, an increase of 17 percent over 2010. Investment in renewable energy power generation was $40 billion greater than investment in fossil fuels in 2011.

Total renewable power capacity grew by 8 percent in 2011, reaching over 1,360 gigawatts (GW) of installed capacity by year-end. Renewable energy technologies now account for 16.7 percent of total final energy consumption and over 25 percent of the world’s installed power-generating capacity. China, the United States, Germany, Spain, Italy, India, and Japan are leading in new renewable investments and now account for almost 70 percent of the world’s non-hydro renewable power generation capacity.

Since 2007, solar photovoltaic (PV) technology has been the fastest growing renewable power generation technology, adding capacity at an average rate of 58 percent per year. Driven by additional installations in Italy (over 9 GW) and Germany (7.5 GW), solar PV saw close to 30 GW of new capacity added worldwide in 2011, bringing the total globally installed capacity to over 69 GW. The solar PV sector also attracted the strongest support of any renewable technology from investors.

Wind power also saw increased deployment in 2011, growing at 20 percent, with around 50 countries adding new capacity during the year. Strong growth in the United States and China accounted for over half of the 40 GW of new wind power capacity added in 2011, bringing the worldwide total to 238 GW.

Governments worldwide continue to play a significant role in facilitating renewable energy development through support policies in the form of regulatory policies, fiscal incentives, and public financing. As of early 2012, these types of policies exist in 109 nations, up from the 96 reported in GSR 2011. Over half the countries with renewable energy support policies are found in the developing world. Targets for future renewable energy shares, installed capacity, and development of renewable technologies can now be found in at least 118 countries, again up from 96 countries in 2010. A number of additional commitments have also been made by other important actors, including municipalities, states, provinces, and regional organizations.

Renewables have made great strides in sectors beyond power generation as well. Renewable heating and cooling technologies are beginning to get more attention, especially from solar and geothermal sources. Roughly 19 countries now have targets for heating and cooling from renewables, and at least 17 countries and state/provincial level jurisdictions have obligations or mandates requiring the use of these technologies.

Renewable energy continues to play an increasingly important role in the transport sector. Biofuel obligations and mandates exist at the national level in 46 countries and at the state/provincial level in 26 jurisdictions as of early 2012. There are now 49 separate mandates for biofuel blending – 23 at the country level and 26 in states and provinces worldwide.

Once again, the Climate and Energy team at the Worldwatch Institute has continued its role as a key contributor to the annual publication, which is one of the most respected and widely referenced reports on renewable energy released each year. For GSR 2012, Worldwatch Senior Fellow Janet Sawin remains Lead Author of the report, and Evan Musolino and Alexander Ochs served as contributors and reviewers. As part of the global network of official launch events, Worldwatch will be coordinating the United States launch of GSR 2012 in Washington, D.C. later this year.

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