Renewable Energy Milestone - Renewable Investment Tops Fossil Fuels for First Time

The journey to a 100 percent renewable energy economy reached a major milestone as investment in renewables has overtaken investment in fossil fuel energy for the first time. A new report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance  demonstrates that a massive $187 billion was invested in wind, solar, and biomass whilst $157 billion was invested in fossil fuel electricity generation last year.

This shift in investment is a tipping point for renewables and the latest signal that the trajectory of our energy economy is towards renewable sources.

According to the Los Angeles Times, increasing installation rates of solar and wind energy equipment has allowed renewables to become more competitive in the global market. The increase in production and installation is driving down technology and equipment prices.

For example, New Energy Finance contends: “The cost of electricity from onshore wind turbines will drop 12% in the next five years thanks to a mix of lower-cost equipment and gains in output efficiency”. Falling prices in wind turbines and related infrastructure has allowed the 2011 average price of wind energy to drop significantly. The cost reductions are expected to continue in the next decade making renewables a much cheaper option than fossil fuels.

Despite tough economic times New Energy Finance reveals India, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America are showing rapid growth in renewable energy investment. Although the economic downturn has subdued this growth in Europe, it still remains one of the world’s largest markets.

New Energy Finance research shows that although China is one of the largest polluters it is set to become the world’s leader in renewable energy investment. “What’s remarkable about China’s wind sector is the speed and scale of its expansion”, said Matthew Wright executive director of Beyond Zero Emissions. At such an immense scale and growth rate China will soon be leading the world in renewable energy technology and production. 

Regardless of the immense growth in renewable energy, Joe Romm from Climate Progress believes it is still not enough to halt the effects of climate change, “we could deploy carbon free technology at a much faster rate and give the next generation fighting chance.”

For Beyond Zero Emissions the increased investment flowing to renewable energy is an exciting development and a step closer to a zero carbon economy. The effect of the cost reductions New Energy Finance expect to occur is that the Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy plan will be cheaper to rollout than initially thought.