Renewable Energy Resources and Investment Has Grown Essay

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renewable energy resources and investment has grown exponentially over the last decade. While availability of renewable technology, its ease of use and possibilities for application have increased the costs of such technologies have decreased, to a large degree. The result of these changes coupled with international pressure and interest in renewable energy has created a dearth of policy change and public and private investment in renewable energy projects and systems almost despite of the current global recession, with of course a slight decline in total investment as a result of the economy. (Sawin and Martinot)

(United Nations Environment Programme)

Since the first edition of REN21's annual Renewables Global Status Report in 2005, the renewable energy sector has grown strongly and steadily. Even in 2009, when up against strong headwinds caused by the economic recession, low oil prices, and the lack of an international climate agreement, renewables managed to hold their own. In 2009, governments stepped up efforts to steer their countries out of recession by transforming industries and creating jobs. This gave a boost to the renewable energy sector. (Sawin and Martinot 4)

The overall trend of growth in renewable resources and policy has in fact been bolstered to some degree and in some areas by the desire of many nations to help invest in the economy with a positive infrastructural standard. In other words, one of the most substantial changes that has occurred as a result of the global economic downturn is the desire by governments and private institutions to reduce waste and invest in renewable technologies that will in the short and long run improve the global energy map.

By early 2010, more than 100 countries had some type of policy target and/or promotion policy related to renewable energy; this compares with 55 countries in early 2005. Wind power and solar PV additions reached a record high during 2009, and in both Europe and the United States, renewables accounted for over half of newly installed power capacity in 2009. More than $150 billion was invested in new renewable energy capacity and manufacturing plants -- up from just $30 billion in 2004. For the second year in a row, more money was invested in new renewable energy capacity than in new fossil fuel capacity. (Sawin and Martinot 4)

The overall trend then according to Sawin and Martinot for investment in renewable energy has remained positive and will likely aide in the global financial recovery and in the long-term goals of reducing non-renewable energy usage.

Two of the most well documented and well developed works associated with first global policy change with regard to renewable energy development (Sawin and Martinot) and second with global public and private investment in renewable and efficiency technologies (United Nations Environment Programme) are first, Renewables 2010 Global Status Report (Sawin and Martinot) and Global Trends in Sustainable Energy Investment 2010: Analysis of Trends and Issues in the Financing of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency. Each document supported by the other serves the purpose of illuminating the state of the global renewable market and trends changes.

The first contrast between the two documents is that each though global in view, delineating different regional and national growth in the renewable energy changes dictates a different aspect of such changes, with the former detailing growth in policy changes regarding renewable energy and the later detailing both renewable energy and efficiency changes in the financial arena, among both public and private entities. Renewables 2010 Global Status Report (Sawin and Martinot) focuses on the technology growth as well as policy change that leads to renewable energy development and adoption across the world, noting remarkable changes in the global search for renewable energy and the reduction of non-renewable energy dependence. While Global Trends in Sustainable Energy Investment 2010: Analysis of Trends and Issues in the Financing of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (United Nations Environment Programme) focuses on the development of the public and private sector financing that is making such changes possible.

The second contrasting point between these two document is that Global Trends in Sustainable Energy Investment 2010: Analysis of Trends and Issues in the Financing of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (United Nations Environment Programme) develops a broader picture of the situation by also discussing efficiency upgrades and their financing across the world. While in contrast Renewables 2010 Global Status Report (Sawin and Martinot) discuses only renewable energy development, discussing efficiency only in the very minimal context of the renewable fuels themselves, such as in the case of more efficient feed stocks for the production of biofuel. (Sawin and Martinot 24)

Global Trends in Sustainable Energy Investment 2010 relies heavily on a single though extremely comprehensive interactive database;

The Bloomberg New Energy Finance Desktop collates all organisations, projects and investments according to transaction type, sector, geography and timing. It covers 32,500 organisations (including start-ups, corporates, venture capital and private equity providers, banks and other investors), 21,500 projects and 17,000 transactions. (United Nations Environment Programme 8)

While Renewables 2010 Global Status Report (Sawin and Martinot) uses a broader set of statistics standards wit 296 mostly discrete resources, seeking a more comprehensive picture of the trends rather than specific project financing.

Yet, in other ways the works are very similar, having been collaborative organizational documents developed to create a better overall understanding of the trends toward renewable energy and reducing non-renewable energy consumption. Key findings are supportive of one another, and while Global Trends in Sustainable Energy Investment 2010 reflects a minimal downturn in growth of renewable energy, i.e. 7%. The reflection is associated not just with the data but the reflection of the information each report is looking at.

Global Trends in Sustainable Energy Investment 2010 states that:

New investment in sustainable energy in 2009 was $162 billion, down from a revised $173 billion in 2008. The 7% fall reflected the impact of the recession on investment in Europe and North America in particular, with renewable energy projects and companies finding it harder to access finance. (United Nations Environment Programme 9)

While the other report looks at overall international growth in technology application the UNEP work is looking at the whole chain of financial investment from research and development to actual funded financed projects regarding efficiency and renewable energy projects. In other words the Sawin and Martinot work is a retrospective work, though very current and the UNEP work is reflective of the future, i.e. projects that are in pre-production development phase and many which are actually already in production from a financial perspective, i.e. having already secured financing. (United Nations Environment Programme). The two works put together can then lead an interested party to a greater understanding of where policy meets reality, i.e. what nations and sectors are changing policy and which are implementing it through financial schema.

Standout key points from the two works include an emphasis on the realization of changing standards and application in developing nations, as well as nations who have been seen previously as lagging behind regarding renewable resources, including but not limited to biofuels and wind production, in both the public and private sector. The two real standouts in both works are China and India, with astounding population bases and previously limited growth in renewable energy, despite staggering usage of energy.

China saw a surge in investment. Out of $119 billion invested worldwide by the financial sector in clean energy companies and utility-scale projects, $33.7 billion took place in China, up 53% on 2008. Financial investment in Europe was down 10% at $43.7 billion, while that in Asia and Oceania, at $40.8 billion, exceeded that in the Americas, at $32.3 billion, for the first time. (United Nations Environment Programme 9)

Similar claims are made by Sawin and Martinot who note that:

The geography of renewable energy is changing in ways that suggest a new era of geographic diversity. For example, wind power existed in just a handful of countries in the 1990s but now exists in over 82 countries. Manufacturing leadership is shifting from Europe to Asia as countries like China, India, and South Korea continue to increase their commitments to renewable energy. In 2009, China produced 40% of the world's solar PV supply, 30% of the world's wind turbines (up from 10% in 2007), and 77% of the world's solar hot water collectors. (Sawin and Martinot 9)

This new renewable geographic shift is one of the most positive trends that can be seen in renewable energy development and both reports rely heavily on this shift as evidence of very high interest in global change with regard to renewable energy. Another point that is well made by both works is the trend toward lower SES nations seeking to create renewable energy production that will compete with the big players and may serve a source for the larger nations for renewable energy sources in the future.

Latin America is seeing many new biofuels producers in countries like Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, as well as expansion in many other renewable…[continue]

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