India, China led in 2015 world renewable energy investments
India and China led developing countries in investments made in renewable energy in 2015, when for the first time commitments in solar, wind and other renewables capacity by emerging economies surpassed those by wealthy nations, a United Nations (UN)-backed report has said. The report 'Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2016' by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said that the developing world including China, India and Brazil committed a total of $156 billion in new renewables capacity last year, up 19 per cent on 2014.
Investments by the developed countries were down 8 per cent in 2015 to $130 billion. The year 2015 was the first time when investment in renewables in developing countries outweighed that in developed economies, the report said. A large part of the record-breaking investment in developing countries took place in China, which lifted its investment by 17 per cent to $102.9 billion, more than a third of global commitments. India was also among the top 10 investing countries in renewable energy, with its commitments rising 22 per cent to $10.2 billion.
The US, Japan, UK Brazil, South Africa, Mexico and Chile all made it to the top 10 investing countries in 2015. "The investment (in India) took place against a backdrop of pro-renewable policies introduced by India's BJP government. These include a target to almost- triple wind capacity to 60 GW by 2022," the report said.
Within the developing-economy category, the "Big Three" of China, India and Brazil saw investment rise 16 per cent to $120.2 billion, while other developing economies enjoyed a 30 per cent bounce to $36.1 billion. Among developed countries, investment in Europe was down 21 per cent, from USD 62 billion in 2014 to USD 48.8 billion in 2015, the continent's lowest figure for nine years despite record investments in offshore wind projects.
The USA was up 19 per cent to $44.1 billion, and in Japan investment was much the same as the previous year at $36.2 billion. The report said India enjoyed a second successive year of increasing investment, breaching the $10 billion for the first time since 2011.
It added that the highlight of India's performance in 2015 was a jump in utility-scale solar financings to $4.6 billion, up 75 per cent on the previous year, although still a little below the 2011 record of $4.9 billion. Among the big projects getting the financial go-ahead were the NTPC Kadiri PV plant phase one, at 250 MW, and the Adani Ramanathapuram PV installation, at 200 MW.
India was also an important focus of new-build renewable energy financing last year, with a total of $9.1 billion raised the most since 2011, and an increase of 34 per cent on 2014. Solar investment surpassed commitments to the country's wind sector for the first time.
"This reflected three things PV bids prevailing over wind in a number of state and federal auctions, the Narendra Modi government's higher target for solar (100 GW by 2022, as opposed to 60 GW for wind), and concerns about a relatively high curtailment rate at wind projects," the report said. Indian renewable energy companies attracted $548 million in venture capital/PE funding in 2015, more than all of Europe ($301 million) and second only to the US. The report attributed this rise to the $230 million investment in Ostro and a $165 million private equity investment in Welspun, a New Delhi-based wind developer.
"While two big deals do not make a trend, the signs are that more will follow. Significantly, India made a commitment at the Paris climate conference in November 2015 to raise the share of non-fossil-fuel power capacity in the country's power mix to 40 per cent by 2030, from its current level of 30 per cent," it said.
The report said that coal and gas-fired electricity generation last year drew less than half the record investment made in solar, wind and other renewables capacity. "Renewables are becoming ever more central to our low-carbon lifestyles, and the record-setting investments in 2015 are further proof of this trend," said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.
"Importantly, for the first time in 2015, renewables in investments were higher in developing countries than developed," he said. The annual global investment in new renewables capacity, at USD 266 billion, was more than double the estimated USD 130 billion invested in coal and gas power stations in 2015.
"Access to clean, modern energy is of enormous value for all societies, but especially so in regions where reliable energy can offer profound improvements in quality of life, economic development and environmental sustainability.
"Continued and increased investment in renewables is not only good for people and planet, but will be a key element in achieving international targets on climate change and sustainable development," Steiner said.