Global clean energy investment in 2015 was $ 348.5 billion according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. As shown in the figure, in 2015, for the first time, investments in renewables in developing countries outweighed those in developed economies according to REN21, a global renewable energy policy multi-stakeholder network that connects a wide range of key actors including governments, nongovernmental organisations, research and academic institutions, international organisations and industry.
The developing world, including Brazil, China and India, committed a total of USD 156 billion, up 19 per cent from 2014, while developed countries invested USD 130 billion, down 8 per cent. China was by far the largest investing country for renewables (excluding large hydro), with USD 102.9 billion in 2015, representing well over a third of the global total. The United States was a distant second with USD 44.1 billion. Developing countries have increased investment almost steadily over the past years, while investment in developed countries peaked in 2011. Developed country investments are now 47 per cent lower than in 2011. Renewable energy technologies today are more cost-competitive than ever before, as technology and installation costs of a range of renewable energy technologies have continued to fall in 2015 and 2016.
The role of renewable energy in global energy supply continues to increase in both developing and developed countries. The share of renewable energy (derived from hydropower, solid and liquid biofuels, wind, the sun, biogas, geothermal and marine sources and waste) in the world’s total final energy consumption has only increased slowly, however, from 17.4 per cent in 2000 to 19.2 per cent in 2014 according to the latest figures from REN21. As shown in the chart, the strongest growth rate has been in solar and wind power.
- read more
As regards energy efficiency, the International Energy Agency notes that in 2015, investors directed USD221 billion into incremental energy efficiency improvements - up 6 per cent from 2014. Efficiency investments comprised 14 per cent of the USD1.6 trillion spent globally on energy supply last year. Last year, energy services companies (ESCOs) generated USD 24 billion in revenue. In the United States, ESCO revenues reached USD 6.3 billion, in the European Union they were USD2.7 billion, in China, USD 13.3 billion.
The benefits of improving energy
The benefits of improving energy efficiency extend well beyond financial savings, relating also to improved energy security, higher productivity for businesses and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Energy intensity is a measure of the energy efficiency of a nation's economy. Energy intensity, calculated by dividing total primary energy supply by GDP, improved by 1.8 per cent in 2015 according to the latest numbers by the International Energy Agency . This represents a considerable improvement over the period from 1990 to 2010. Still, progress is proceeding at only two-thirds of the pace needed to double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency by 2030 (see Report of the Secretary-General, "Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals", E/2016/75).Access to affordable, reliable, modern and sustainable energy servicesThe proportion of the global population with access to electricity has increased steadily. According to the most 2016 estimates by the International Energy Agency, 16 per cent of the global population – an estimated 1.2 billion people – do not have access to electricity, 15 million fewer than reported in the previous year. Many more suffer from supply that is of poor quality. More than 95 per cent of those living without electricity are in countries in sub-Saharan Africa and developing Asia, and are predominantly in rural areas (around 80 per cent of the total). Progress in providing electrification in urban areas has been double progress in rural areas since 2000.More than 2.7 billion people – 38 per cent of the world’s population – are estimated to rely on the traditional use of solid biomass for cooking, typically using inefficient stoves or open fires in poorly ventilated spaces. Developing Asia and sub-Saharan Africa once again dominate the global totals. While the number of people relying on biomass is larger in developing Asia than in sub-Saharan Africa, their share of the population is lower: 50 per cent in developing Asia, compared with more than 80per cent in sub-Saharan Africa. Overall, nearly three-quarters of the global population living without clean cooking facilities (around 2 billion people) live in just ten countries. See for more information: 2016 World Energy Outlook.More information: Renewable Energy Status Report 2017 (UN-ECE and REN21)