The Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) has released it’s Renewable 2005: Global Status Report (in PDF), and the numbers look good: “Global investment in renewable energy set a new record of $30 billion in 2004…” Among other items listed in the report’s executive summary:
- The fastest growing energy technology in the world is grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV), which grew in existing capacity by 60 percent per year from 2000-2004, to cover more than 400,000 rooftops in Japan, Germany, and the United States. Second is wind power capacity, which grew by 28 percent last year, led by Germany, with almost 17 gigawatts installed as of 2004.
- Production of biofuels (ethanol and biodiesel) exceeded 33 billion liters in 2004, when ethanol displaced about 3 percent of the 1,200 billion liters of gasoline globally.
- An estimated US $500 million goes to developing countries each year as development assistance for renewable energy projects, training, and market support, with the German Development Finance Group (KfW), the World Bank Group, and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) providing the majority of these funds, and dozens of other donors and programs providing the rest.
- Over 4.5 million “green” power consumers in Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, and Japan purchased renewable electricity at the retail level or via certificates in 2004.
I’d love for someone with more knowledge of/experience in economics to comment on this, especially in relationship to a recent post in which I noted that managers of renewable energy mutual funds are urging investors to stay cautious on renewable energy. Again, I’m sure there’s fear of a bubble developing, with many investors looking for a quick, profitable turnaround on their investment rather than sustainable development of renewable technologies. Still, we’re obviously dealing with a sustained demand for renewable energy products and services — wouldn’t this signal that the renewable industry could move quickly into a “blue chip” status rather than being a replay of the “dot com” bust? I see that parallel being drawn, and it seems too simplistic… I also realize I’m pointing only to the extreme ends of the market…