As we look back on 2015 and the state of renewable energy around the globe, it would be easy to think it was a down year for renewables. There were many headwinds to overcome, but renewable energy beat the odds in 2015, and saw it’s largest increase ever. Despite the reasons listed below, renewable energy saw an increase of 121 gigawatts of energy capacity added, with over $329 billion dollars invested globally!
Traditional Fuel Prices
2015 was a year known for significant price drops in traditional energy sources, such as oil, natural gas and coal. The prices for these commodities dropped to the lowest levels in over ten years. This change in the market could have been bad news for renewable energy investment.
European countries have always been leaders in renewable energy investment, often among the leaders in money spent each year on additional renewable energy capacity. However, as the European Union has struggled with their economy, 2015 proved to be the lowest year of investment since 2006. This could have really hurt the renewable energy industry, but China’s consistent investment increases have offset Europe’s decline. China alone invested $110.52 billion in renewables in 2015. The United States also saw a modest increase in investments, rising 7.5% to $56 billion dollars in 2015.
Emerging Markets and Beyond
The world powers are not the only factors in this story. Emerging markets, in total, invested more money in renewable energy than the world powers, which is a great shift in the global economy that we have not seen before. Renewables are truly being invested in around the globe, even in the smallest country.
2015 will be remembered as a turning point for renewable energy around the globe. Despite tough economic factors in Europe and incredibly low fossil fuel prices, the world is now adding more clean energy capacity than from oil, coal and natural gas combined! This is an incredible achievement and a milestone in our history. As the price of clean energy continues to drop, the momentum gained in 2015 should reach into 2016 and beyond.