New industry analysis shows cheap oil and gas could not stop another record year for renewable energy, or a turning point for energy investment as sun and the wind continue to defy gravity.
Renewable energy just finished another record-breaking year, with US$329 billion invested and 121 gigawatts of capacity added.
The surge in renewable energy capacity is revealed in new data released by industry analyst Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).
Bloomberg newsagency reports the surge was not supposed to happen.
Oil, coal and natural gas bottomed out over the past 18 months, with bargain prices not seen in a decade.
BNEF reports that is just one of a handful of reasons 2015 should have been a rough year for clean energy, but the opposite was true.
Once the world leader in new-energy spending, Europe’s investments have fallen off amid economic stagnation.
Last year, Europe had its smallest investment in renewable energy since 2006.
China spent a record US$111 billion on deployment of clean energy infrastructure last year.
That’s 17 per cent more than it spent the prior year, and almost as much as the United States and Europe combined.
Spending in the US rose 7.5 per cent in 2015 to $56 billion, the most since federal stimulus spending peaked in 2011.
For the first time, half of the world’s annual investment in clean energy came from emerging markets.
Even more telling is that the world has reached a turning point, and is now adding more power capacity from renewable energy every year than from coal, natural gas, and oil combined.
Investment dollars rose four per cent last year, while the new capacity added for wind and solar jumped 30 per cent.