UN points to global renewable ‘energy boom’

A report from the United Nations Environment Programme reveals an increase in sustainable-energy investment of 43% between 2005 and 2006, and a similar continued growth trajectory so far in 2007.

Some $100bn in investment capital flowed into renewable energy in 2006, up from $80bn in 2005, according to UNEP’s report, ‘Global Trends in Sustainable Energy 2007’, published in June 2007.

The report attributes this boom to factors such as climate change, increasing energy demand, the persistently high price of oil and clean-energy policy initiatives that both facilitate investment and create a stable environment for a continued sector growth. 

“Growing consumer awareness of renewable energy and energy efficiency- and their longer-term potential for cheaper energy, and not just greener energy- has become another fundamental driver,” the report states.

More than 70% of investment in sustainable energy is either in the EU and the US. However, the EU-27 lags in research investment, the report states. Statistics also proved that the renewable-energy industry is no longer dominated by developed countries, as around a fifth is represented by the developing world. 

The survey finds that wind energy is subject to more important investment, with India leading the market. Solar energy, lead by China, and biofuels, lead by Brazil, had the fastest growth rates. Brazil is the world’s largest sustainable-energy market, with around 44 % of its total energy production coming from renewable sources.

“Renewable energies are no longer subject to the vagaries of rising and falling oil prices – they are becoming generating systems of choice for increasing numbers of power companies, communities and countries irrespective of the costs of fossil fuels,” said Achim Steiner, executive director of UNEP. 

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