Nairobi: The world is enjoying a “green energy gold rush”, the UN’s environmental agency said as it published a report outlining a 60% hike in investment in renewable energy in 2007.
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) study, published in Nairobi, said more than $148 billion of new funds were ploughed into the quest for cleaner energy last year.
The massive demand for solar, wind and biofuel energy was being powered by prevailing climate change worries, growing support from world governments and rising crude oil prices, the UN agency said.
Energy infrastructure revamped with investements in biofuel, solar power
“Just as thousands were drawn to California and the Klondike in the late 1800s, the green energy gold rush is attracting legions of modern-day prospectors in all parts of the globe,” UNEP executive director Achim Steiner said in a statement.
The UNEP report said wind energy had attracted the highest investment, raking in $50.2 billion in 2007. As of March 2008 its production capacity was more than 100 gigabytes, it added.
Solar power grew most rapidly, attracting some $28.6 billion in new capital and growing at an average annual rate of 254% since 2004. Biofuel investment declined by one-third to 2.1 billion in 2007 with new investment shifting from the U.S to the growth economies of Brazil, India and China.
Much of the new cash flowed into Europe and the U.S, but China, India and Brazil were drawing increasing interest with investment in the three nations up from 12% in 2004 to 22% last year -- an increase from $1.8 billion to 26 billion.
Effectively, China, India and Brazil accounted for nearly a quarter of the new investment in clean energy. Sustainable energy accounted for 23% of new power capacity added globally in 2007, about 10 times that of nuclear, the report added.
“Investment in the sustainable energy sectors must continue to grow strongly if targets for greenhouse gas reductions and renewables and efficiency increases are to be met,” according to the report.
“Investment between now and 2030 is expected to reach $450 billion a year by 2012, rising to more than $600 billion a year from 2020.”
Energy from biomass and geothermal power lined up
The report added that energy from biomass and geothermal power were being lined up as the next growth industries as the world strives to end its dependency on fossil fuels blamed for contributing to global warming.
Developing nations like China, which has already surpassed the U.S as the world’s largest carbon polluter, are under pressure to take quick measures aimed at curbing its greenhouse gas emissions.
Developing world, especially China to use clearner energy sources
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged the world most populous nation on to accept its global responsibilities on climate change. “Major emitters from the developing world must also increase their contributions to reduce carbon emissions.”
“With world temperatures and fossil fuel prices climbing higher, it is obvious to the public and investors that transition to a low-carbon society will be a global imperative and an inevitability.
Although Africa continues to lag other regions in terms of sustainable energy investment, financing in the clean energy sector climbed to $1.3 billion in 2007. This was five times the level of the previous year and reversed a gradual