Renewable energy development hit a record US$755 billion last year, but still fell far short of what will be needed to bring the world’s greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050, according to analysis released yesterday by BloombergNEF.
The 27% increase in investment between 2020 and 2021 showed “how strong investor appetite is for the technologies that are key to preventing the worst effects of global warming,” Bloomberg News reported yesterday. “However, spending must ramp up significantly to reach net-zero carbon emissions by the middle of the century. BNEF estimates that $2.1 trillion of investment is needed in the energy transition from 2022 to 2025, nearly three times last year’s level.”
The report showed $366 billion in investment going to renewable energy projects, with electrified transport receiving $273 billion, up 77% from the previous year. BNEF’s calculations of low-carbon investments include renewable electricity, electrified heat, energy storage, and nuclear, the news agency writes.
“Across all regions we need to see much more investment,” said BNEF Head of Analysis Albert Cheung. “You’re going to have to see a huge uplift and that’s going to have to be driven by government policy.”
The analysis appeared alongside reports that China installed more than 100 gigawatts (100 billion watts) of new solar and wind capacity, while Canada checked in with a gigawatt of renewables growth, the majority of it in Alberta.
China “added a record 54.9 gigawatts of solar farms last year, 14% more than in 2020,” the South China Morning Post wrote, citing data from the country’s National Energy Administration. “Wind power capacity growth, however, dropped by a third to 47.6 GW last year after a record 71.7 GW was installed in 2020, as tariff subsidies for onshore wind farms—the mainstay of the sector—were phased out.”
In Canada, Alberta accounted for 60% of new renewable energy installations, with Saskatchewan delivering another 20%, the Canadian Renewable Energy Association (CanREA) reported Wednesday.
“2021 was a positive year for our industries, with 677 MW of new wind energy and 288 MW of new utility-scale solar energy commissioned,” CanREA President and CEO Robert Hornung said in a release, “but this rate of growth is not nearly enough. We must dramatically accelerate and expand the deployment of these technologies.”
The release placed the country’s current renewable energy capacity at 14,304 GW for wind and 2,399 for solar. It projected another 3,000 MW of new capacity in 2022, and the same in 2023.
“Canada is just starting to take advantage of its massive untapped wind and solar energy potential,” Hornung said. “As the lowest-cost source of new, decarbonized electricity generation available in Canada today, wind and solar energy will be a cornerstone of Canada’s efforts to address climate change. Success, however, will require several policy, regulatory, and infrastructure barriers to be addressed, enabling a dramatic increase in the scale and speed of deployment.”