64GW of wind power and 57GW of solar PV was commissioned last year, a jump of nearly 30% over 2014 according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).
Global total investment in clean energy also set a new record in 2015 – USD $328.9bn. This was up 4% from 2014’s $315.9bn and beat the previous all-time record set in 2011 by 3%.
What makes these figures even more impressive is the investment coincided with falling oil and gas prices; which some believed would heavily impact on renewables.
“They highlight the improving cost-competitiveness of solar and wind power, driven in part by the move by many countries to reverse-auction new capacity rather than providing advantageous tariffs, a shift that has put producers under continuing price pressure,” said Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
China again led the pack in 2014 with an investment of $110.5bn – up 17%. In second place was the USA with $56bn, up 8%.
Another top performer was India with an investment of $10.9bn; up 23%. However, BNEF said the amount was a “far cry for the figures needed to implement the Modi government’s ambitious plans.” This hasn’t gone unnoticed by India’s government. It recently boosted the budget for grid connect rooftop solar by more than 8-fold. Utility scale solar rollout is also picking up pace, with capacity addition in the first quarter of this year forecast to be equivalent to the entire capacity added in 2015.
For Australia, 2015 turned out to be a mixed bag. The Sydney Morning Herald’s BNEF report coverage states investment in large-scale renewable energy in Australia pretty much evaporated after the Abbott government first demolished the carbon tax and then held the Renewable Energy Target hostage for eighteen months.
Just $15 million was invested from February 2014 on large-scale wind, solar and other clean energy projects.
“It can’t be understated that the actions of the Abbott government have destroyed confidence in the renewable energy market,” said Kobad Bhavnagri, head of Bloomberg New Energy Finance in Australia.
With the RET issue resolved last year, the Clean Energy Council sees brighter days ahead and believes Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his Ministers appear committed to restoring confidence in renewables investment.
“In the meantime, institutions such as the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and ARENA are helping to bridge the finance gap for major renewable energy developers,” said CEC spokesperson Mark Bretherton.
“Negotiating contracts to buy the renewable energy generated by major projects simply takes time, and we are expecting more projects to proceed in the first two quarters of 2016.”
SMH reports small-scale installations of solar power systems totalled 827 megawatts last year, up from 792MW in 2014. New investment in renewable energy in Australia rose 16 per cent to $4.27 billion in 2015.