Tue, Apr 10, 2018 - Page 11 News List

China leads solar energy investment, report says

TOUGH CHOICES:Nations need to step up renewable power generation and cut back on electricity use to meet the goals of the Paris climate deal, an expert said


More money was invested in new solar energy plants last year than in any other power source, with China responsible for much of the boom, according to a report published by the UN Environment Program on Thursday last week.

A record 98 gigawatts of new solar capacity was installed worldwide last year, with investments topping US$160 billion — an increase of 18 percent compared with the previous year.

China alone spent US$86.5 billion on solar installations, adding 53 gigawatts of capacity.

Total new investments in renewable energy reached almost US$280 billion last year, an increase of 2 percent from 2016, but still far below the 2015 record of more than US$323 billion.

Coal and gas accounted for investments totaling US$103 billion, while spending on large hydropower dams and nuclear power plants stood at US$45 billion and US$42 billion respectively.

The report, based on data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, found that renewable energy investments in the US fell by 6 percent last year, while in Germany they plummeted 35 percent and in Japan they dropped by 28 percent.

That was partly due to falling prices, but regulatory changes and the timing of large wind power deals also played a role.

Renewable energy accounted for 12.1 percent of the electricity generated worldwide last year, up from 11 percent in 2016, the report said.

Although the increased share amounts to a savings of 1.8 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide — a key greenhouse gas — it was not enough to offset rising global energy consumption, the report said.

“Nations will have to step up renewable power generation and cut back on electricity use if they want to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris climate accord,” said Francoise d’Estais, an energy finance expert with the UN agency and coauthor of the report

Currently about a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions come from electricity and heat generation.

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