Global Surge in Green Energy Investment

Reports released in July by the United Nations Environment Programme and the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21), have revealed that global investment in the green energy sector has witnessed a significant boost. However, this information has been somewhat marred following the release of a Bloomberg report indicating that the fossil fuel industry enjoys a far greater share of government subsidies in comparison with the renewable energy sectors.

The twin reports from the UN and the REN21 conclude that in 2009, renewables accounted for 60% of newly installed energy resources in Europe, with the figure for the USA sitting at 50%. In addition, new private and public sector investments in new renewables and biofuels rose by 53% in China last year, with the country adding 37 GW of renewable power capacity.

This dramatic increase in China’s renewable energy capacity coincides with the news that they have overtaken the US in terms of energy consumption. Over the past decade, China’s use of coal, oil, wind and other power sources have more than doubled.

This trend bucking also featured in the UN and REN21 reports, with suggestions that total investment in renewables increased in 2009. Although investment in new renewables, biofuel and energy efficiency decreased by 7%, there was record investment in wind power. In the USA, the American wind power industry added 39% greater capacity, with almost 2% of the country’s electricity being derived from wind turbines.

Although the global investment figures appear to have risen in terms of the increased renewable energy capacities of many countries, a report compiled by analysts Bloomberg provides a damning overview of government commitments to the development of the renewable energy sector.

The report concluded that in 2009 governments provided $43 and $46 billion worth of global subsidies to the renewable energy and biofuel industries. This was dwarfed by the $557 billion allocated to the fossil fuel industry the previous year.

It is believed that the lack of funding for renewables from investors is due to a visible lack of direct government funding. However, it seems that more subsidy schemes are appearing in various countries with the aim of providing the support needed for the continued development of green energy alternatives.

In the UK and in Germany for instance, a feed-in tariff offers financial incentives for those willing to employ small wind turbines as a means of powering their house or small business. Such subsidiary schemes are a significant factor if the G20 countries are to fulfill their pledge to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.