New Internationalist

Renewables take off

January 2006

Global investment in renewable energy set a new record of $30 billion in 2004. Technologies such as wind, solar, biomass, geothermal and small hydro now provide 160 gigawatts of electricity-generating capacity, about four per cent of the world total. Altogether, renewable energy industries provide 1.7 million jobs, most of them skilled and well-paying.

The Global Status Report is based on the work of more than 100 researchers and contributors from at least 20 countries. It provides an assessment of several renewable technologies that are now competing with conventional fuels in four distinct markets: power generation, hot water and space heating, transportation fuels, and rural (off-grid) energy supplies.

Mandates for blending biofuels into vehicle fuels have been enacted in at least 20 states and provinces worldwide as well as in three key countries – Brazil, China and India. The market leaders in renewable energy in 2004 were Brazil in biofuels, China in solar hot water, Germany in solar electricity and Spain in wind power.

The Worldwatch Institute

This column was published in the January 2006 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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