Renewable energy’s share of global electricity generation continued its steady climb last year, despite a 14% dip in investments to $214bn worldwide, according to a new United Nations report.
The Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2014 report, says solar in particular improved its cost-competitiveness, with 39GW installed globally last year, up from 31GW in 2012.
The report points out the $35.1bn investment drop was partly down to the falling cost of solar systems. The global average levelised cost of electricity from crystalline silicon PV systems declined by 53% in 2013, it says.
The other main cause of the dip was policy uncertainty in many countries - an issue which also depressed investment in fossil fuel generation in 2013.
Cost reductions and efficiency improvements enabled solar and onshore wind to be constructed in an increasing number of locations around the world without the support of subsidies last year.
Renewables, excluding hydropower, accounted for 8.5% of total power generation last year, up from 7.8% in 2012, says the report by Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance and Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
“A long-term shift in investment over the next few decades towards a cleaner energy portfolio is needed to avoid dangerous climate change, with the energy sector accounting for around two thirds of total global greenhouse gas emissions,” says Achim Steiner, UN under-secretary-general and executive director of UNEP.
“The fact that renewable energy is gaining a bigger share of overall generation globally is encouraging. To support this further, we must re-evaluate investment priorities, shift incentives, build capacity and improve governance structures.
“While some may point to the fact that overall investment in renewables fell in 2013, the drop masks the many positive signals of a dynamic market that is fast evolving and maturing.
“This should give governments the confidence to forge a new robust climate agreement to cut emissions at the 2015 climate change conference in Paris,” he adds.
Ulf Moslener, head of research at the Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance, agreed that the overall decline in investment dollars had been disappointing.
However, he claims, “the foundations for future growth in the renewable energy market fell into place in 2013”.