Renewable Energy: World Invests $244 Billion In 2012, Geographic Shift To Developing Countries


Installed capacity continues to grow as solar prices drop 30-40%, new wind installations surge.

For only the second time since 2006, global investments in renewable energy in 2012 failed to top the year before, falling 12% mainly due to dramatically lower solar prices and weakened US and EU markets.   

However, 2012 was the second highest year ever for renewable energy investments, which total $1.3 trillion since 2006.  And there was a continuing upward trend in developing countries in 2012, with investments in the South topping $112 billion vs $132 billon in developed countries — a dramatic change from 2007, when developed economies invested 2.5 times more in renewables (excluding large hydro) than developing countries, a gap that has closed to just 18%. 

The 2012 global investment total for renewable energy (including small hydro-electric projects) was $244 billion.  In previous years, global investments totaled $279 billion (2011), $227 billion (2010), $168 billion (2009), $172 billion (2008), $146 billion (2007) and $100 billion (2006).

Renewable energies have rapidly become a vital part of the global energy mix and account for an ever-growing share of electric capacity added worldwide. 

Total renewable power capacity worldwide exceeded 1,470 GW in 2012, up 8.5% from 2011. Wind power accounted for about 39% of renewable power capacity added followed by hydropower and solar PV, which each accounted for approximately 26%. Solar PV capacity reached the 100 GW milestone, surpassing bio-power to become the third largest renewable technology in terms of capacity in operation, after hydro and wind.