Despite Low Oil Prices, Renewables Attract Record $329 Billion in 2015

Despite Low Oil Prices, Renewables Attract Record $329 Billion in 2015

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Despite bargain basement prices for oil and natural gas, renewable energies like solar and wind raked in a record $329.3 billion of investment last year.

Clean energy investment surged in 2015 in China, Africa, the US, Latin America and India, driving the world total up 4% from 2014 and beating the previous record, set in 2011 by 3%, according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance report released Thursday.

“These figures are a stunning riposte to all those who expected clean energy investment to stall on falling oil and gas prices,” said Michael Liebreich, founder of the London-based research arm of Bloomberg LP. “They highlight the improving cost-competitiveness of solar and wind power.”

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Not only did crude oil prices plunge 67% over 18 months to the end of 2015, the price of solar photovoltaics continued their decline. Yet the record investment was unhindered by declines in the cost of photovoltaics, which allowed more capacity to be installed for the same price.

The biggest piece of the $329.3 billion invested in clean energy last year was from the financing of utility-scale projects such as wind farms, (like the string of large offshore wind arrays in the North Sea and off the coast of China), solar parks, biomass and waste-to-energy plants and small hydro-electric schemes. These totaled $199 billion, up 6% over the previous year.

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“Wind and solar power are now being adopted in many developing countries as a natural and substantial part of the generation mix: they can be produced more cheaply than often high wholesale power prices; they reduce a country’s exposure to expected future fossil fuel prices; and above all they can be built very quickly to meet unfulfilled demand for electricity. And it is very hard to see these trends going backwards, in the light of December’s Paris Climate Agreement.”

Africa and the Middle East are two regions with big potential for clean energy, given their growing populations, plentiful solar and wind resources and, in many African countries, low rates of electricity access. In 2015, these regions combined saw investment of $13.4 billion, up 54% on the previous year.

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Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance

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