Renewables Saw More Money Invested and More Capacity Added in 2015 Than Ever Before
Renewables saw more money invested and more capacity added in 2015 than ever before https://t.co/Vlqun2dg74 https://t.co/OZc8nIxyl0— Bloomberg (@Bloomberg)1452783016.0
Spending on clean energy technology increased 4 percent from 2014, due to tumbling prices for photovoltaics and wind turbines, as well as large investments in offshore wind farms. According to BNEF, renewable energy installation in 2015 was up 30 percent compared to the same period in 2014, setting a record for the most installation of renewable power capacity in a year. Globally, wind and solar made up half of all new generation technologies, including fossil fuels. Around 64 gigawatts of wind capacity and 57 gigawatts of solar were commissioned.
“These figures are a stunning riposte to all those who expected clean energy investment to stall on falling oil and gas prices,” Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board for BNEF, said. “They highlight the improving cost-competitiveness of solar and wind power.”
Emerging markets saw substantial increases in renewable energy investments. China remained the largest market, increasing investment 17 percent to $110.5 billion. That's nearly double the $56 billion invested by the U.S., which came in second in BNEF's rankings. India increased its investment by 23 percent to $10.9 billion. New markets such as Mexico, Chile and South Africa attracted tens of billions of dollars. Brazil was an outlier, where investments dropped 10 percent to $7.5 billion.
In contrast to emerging markets, Europe saw investments in renewable energy fall 18 percent to $58.5 billion in 2015, its lowest figure since 2006. Germany and France saw investment levels fall by 42 and 53 percent, respectively. The UK, however, bucked Europe's overall trend, with investments growing 24 percent due, in part, to large offshore wind developments, such as the 580 megawatt Race Bank wind farm in the North Sea.
The 2015 renewable energy installation record is "all the more remarkable as cost-competitiveness improvements in solar and wind power mean that more megawatts can be installed for the same price," the report explains.
Amazing! Clean energy investment hit a record $329 billion last year! https://t.co/ZlLKcrOwh9 via @BloombergNEF https://t.co/JD4RatZbq5— GCCA (@GCCA)1452769224.0
“Wind and solar power are now being adopted in many developing countries as a natural and substantial part of the generation mix,” Liebreich said. “They can be produced more cheaply than often high wholesale power prices. They reduce a country’s exposure to expected fossil fuel prices. And above all, they can be built very quickly to meet unfulfilled demand for electricity.”
"And it is very hard to see these trends going backwards, in the light of December's Paris Climate Agreement," Liebreich added.
The boom in clean energy investment, as BNEF explains, comes in spite of the low price in fossil fuels, which some analysts predicted would restrain investment in renewables.
"Over the past 18 months the price of Brent crude has dropped 67 percent to below $40 per barrel, while the price of natural gas in the U.S. fell 48 percent and the price of international steam coal dropped 35 percent in Europe," BusinessGreen said. On Tuesday, the price of crude in the West Texas Intermediate briefly dropped below $30 a barrel for the first time in 12 years.
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For more than a decade, Susan Jane Brown has been battling to stop a natural gas pipeline and export terminal from being built in the backcountry of Oregon. As an attorney at the nonprofit Western Environmental Law Center, she has repeatedly argued that the project's environmental, social, and health costs are too high.
All that was before this month's deadly wildfires in Oregon shrouded the skies above her home office in Portland. "It puts a fine point on it. These fossil fuel projects are contributing to global climate change," she says.
Moderates Feeling the Heat<p>If elected, Mr. Biden has vowed to stop new drilling for oil and gas on federal land and in federal waters and to rejoin the 2015 Paris climate accord that President Donald Trump gave notice of quitting. He would reinstate Obama-era regulations of greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, the largest component of natural gas.</p><p>The Biden climate platform also states that all federal infrastructure investments and federal permits would need to be assessed for their climate impacts. Analysts say such a test could impede future LNG plants and pipelines, though not those that already have federal approval. </p><p>Climate change activists who pushed for that language say much depends on who would have oversight of federal agencies that regulate the industry. Some are wary of Biden's reliance on advice from Obama-era officials, including former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who is now on the board of Southern Company, a utility, and a former Obama environmental aide, Heather Zichal, who has served on the board of Cheniere Energy, an LNG exporter. </p>
The Push for U.S. Fuel Exports<p>As vice president, Biden was part of an administration that pushed hard for global climate action while also promoting U.S. oil and gas exports to its allies and trading partners. As fracking boomed, Obama ended a 40-year ban on crude oil exports. In Europe, LNG was touted both as an alternative to coal and as strategic competition with Russian pipelines.</p><p>That much, at least, continued with President Trump. Under Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the agency referred to liquified U.S. hydrocarbons as "<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/29/us/freedom-gas-energy-department.html" target="_blank">freedom gas</a>."</p><p>Mr. Trump has also championed the interests of coal, oil, and gas while denigrating the findings of government climate scientists. He rejected the Paris accord as unfair to the U.S. and detrimental to its economy, but has offered no alternative path to emissions cuts. </p><p>Still, Trump's foreign policy has not always served the LNG industry: Tariffs on foreign steel drove up pipeline costs, and a trade war with China stayed the hand of Chinese LNG importers wary of reliance on U.S. suppliers. </p><p>Even his regulatory rollbacks could be a double-edged sword. By relaxing curbs last month on methane leaks, the U.S. has ceded ground to European regulators who are drafting emissions standards that LNG producers are watching closely. "That's a precursor of fights that will be fought in all the rest of the developed world," says Mr. Hutchison. </p><p>Indeed, some oil-and-gas exporters had urged the Trump administration not to abandon the tougher rules, since they undercut their claim to offer a cleaner-burning way of producing heat and electricity. "U.S. LNG is not going to be able to compete in a world that's focused on methane emissions and intensity," says Erin Blanton, a senior research scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. </p>
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