Changing our energy focus has disrupted the growth of some sectors, and yet, accelerated the rise of others. Specifically, the renewable energy industry has obviously benefited from this new demand for greener energy, where traditional energy companies have struggled.
In light of these changes, the renewable energy sector has enjoyed a record-breaking performance lately.
To investigate this growth in the renewable energy sector, we’ve teamed up with calibration rigs supplier, HTL Group.
The renewables market has enjoyed strong growth in recent years. In 2016, 138 gigawatts (GW) of renewable capacity was created, showing an 8% increase on 2015, when 128 GW was added.
This 138 GW contribution from the renewable energy sector outperforms all other sectors, with a 55% share of the market. Following in second place, coal created 54 GW of power-generating capacity, while gas created 37 GW and nuclear created 10 GW. Renewables’ huge contribution to the global power-generating capacity accounted for 55% of 2016’s electricity generation capacity and 17% of the total global power capacity, increasing from 15% in 2015.
In terms of reducing CO2 emissions, the increase in renewable energy’s contributions in 2016 led to a saving of 1.7 billion tonnes of CO2, says UNEP. Based on the 39.9 billion tonnes of CO2 that was released in 2016, the figure would have been 4% higher without the availability of renewable energy sources.
This growth, however, was not reflected in terms of investments, which fell for the sector in 2016. In 2016, $242 billion was invested in the sector, showing a 23% decrease on 2015’s figures. This reduction can largely be attributed to the falling cost of technology in each sector.
The markets did change in different ways between countries though. In 2016, Europe was the only region to see an increase in investment in the renewables sector, rising 3% on 2015’s figures to reach $60 billion. This performance is largely driven by the region’s offshore wind projects, which accounted for $26 billion of the total, increasing by over 50% on 2015’s figures.
Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, and Norway all saw the strongest investments; UK investment slipped by 1% on the previous year, while Germany’s investment dropped by 14%.
Chinese investment in the sector fell by nearly a third, from $78 billion in 2015 to $37 billion in 2016. Investment from developing nations also dropped in 2016 to a total of $117 billion, down from $167 billion in 2015. In 2016, investment had almost levelled out between developed and developing countries ($125 billion vs $117 billion).
The future of renewable
Advances within the renewables sector are key to the sector’s growth. From the falling cost of technology to societal shifts like the 2040 ban to prevent the sale of new petrol- and diesel-fuelled cars, the future certainly looks positive for the sector — even if investment has declined in the past year.
The market is still primarily dominated by fossil fuel usage, but this is expected to falter as people’s attitudes continue to change. In the future, it is inevitable that the sector will overtake more traditional markets on a global scale, revolutionising how we generate and consume energy.