2015 was another record year for renewables

According to two recent studies, 2015 was yet another record year for renewable energy sources as no less than $285.9 billion (256 billion euros) have been invested in that sector last year. 

This beats the previous record of 2011 when  $278.5 billion had been spent. These are the figures from the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) in collaboration with Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). There are a few noteworth elements in there:

  • 2015 was the first year where the global capacity of renewables was higher than the added fossil fuels capacity, with 53.6 percent of the total;
  • For the first time ever developping nations invested more on renewable energy sources than developed nations. As the authors note:

” The developing world including China, India and Brazil committed a total of $156 billion, up 19% on 2014, while developed countries invested $130 billion, down 8%. “

  • Wind and solar combined added capacities reached 118,000 MW (118 GW), beating the previous year’s record, 94 GW.

This means that this year or next, solar will be reaching 250 GW of capacity worldwide. Wind capacity may reach this year – or next – 500 GW of capacity worldwide, while I still remember blogging about the 300 GW threshold three few years ago. Those are staggering numbers.

But the fight for carbon neutrality is far, very far, from being won. Most of these record investments come from China as its government is doing its best to avert political unrest and prevent millions of people to die.

Other regions such as the European Union are currently backtracking from their previous ambitions, and this despite its many earlier successes. The United States still need to ditch coal faster and embrace efficiency and conservation… We are barely gaining up speed and time is against us.

Check the full report for more details.


All this happens as according to the IRENA, a staggering 8.1 million people are now working in renewable energy, a five percent increase from the previous year. This figure does not count large hydropower, which adds 1.3 million direct jobs. That’s right, renewable energy sources currently employ a little less than 10 million people worldwide. Who would now deny their importance for our economies ?
IRENA jobs 2016 category

Solar photovoltaic employs the most with 2.772 million people, liquid biofuels 1.678 million and wind 1.081 million.

IRENA jobs 2016 region

China has the most jobs, with 3.523 million, the European Union counts 1.169 million and the United States over 768,000 and Latin America 918,000. However, this figure is declining in Europe as the economy is growing weakly.

But this global growth may only be the beginning as to the IRENA, renewables may well empoy 24 million people worldwide by 2030. The future will be powered by wind, solar and other renewables.

Image credits : Flickr, Intel Free Press. 

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