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Global demand for renewable energy continued to rise during
2011 and 2012, supplying an estimated 19% of global final
energy consumption in 2011 (the latest year for which data are
available), with a little less than half from traditional biomass
Useful heat energy from modern renewable sources accounted
for an estimated 4.1% of total final energy use; hydropower
made up about 3.7%; and an estimated 1.9% was provided
by power from wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass, and by
Total renewable power capacity worldwide exceeded 1,470
GW in 2012, up about 8.5% from 2011.
Hydropower rose 3%
to an estimated 990 GW, while other renewables grew 21.5%
to exceed 480 GW.
Globally, wind power accounted for about
39% of renewable power capacity added in 2012, followed by
hydropower and solar PV, each accounting for approximately
Renewables made up just over half of total net additions to
electric generating capacity from all sources in 2012. By year’s
end, they comprised more than 26% of global generating
capacity and supplied an estimated 21.7% of global electricity,
with 16.5% of electricity provided by hydropower. Industrial,
commercial, and residential consumers are increasingly
becoming producers of renewable power in a growing number
Demand continued to rise in the heating and cooling sector,
which offers an immense, yet mostly untapped, potential for
renewable energy deployment. Already, heat from modern
biomass, solar, and geothermal sources represents a significant
portion of the energy derived from renewables, and the sector
is evolving slowly as countries begin to enact support policies.
Trends in the sector include the use of larger systems, increas
ing use of combined heat and power (CHP), the feeding of
renewable heat and cooling into district schemes, and the
growing use of modern renewable heat for industrial purposes.
After years of rapid growth, biodiesel production continued
to expand in 2012 but at a much slower rate; fuel ethanol
production peaked in 2010 and has since declined. Small but
growing quantities of gaseous biofuels are being used to fuel
vehicles, and there are limited but increasing initiatives to link
electric transport systems with renewable energy.
Most renewable energy technologies continued to see
expansion in manufacturing and global demand during 2012.
However, uncertain policy environments and declining policy
support affected investment climates in a number of estab
lished markets, slowing momentum in Europe, China, and India.
Solar PV and onshore wind power experienced continued
price reductions due to economies of scale and technology
advances, but also due to a production surplus of modules and
turbines. Combined with the international economic crisis and
ongoing tensions in international trade, these developments
have created new challenges for some renewable industries,
and particularly for equipment manufacturers, leading to
industry consolidation. However, they also have opened up new
opportunities and pushed companies to explore new markets.
Renewables are becoming more affordable for a broader range
of consumers in developed and developing countries alike.
Renewables are picking up speed across Asia, Latin America,
the Middle East, and Africa, with new investment in all tech
nologies. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and
South Africa, in particular, witnessed the launch of ambitious
new targets in 2012, as well as the emergence of policy
frameworks and renewables deployment. Markets, manufac
turing, and investment shifted increasingly towards developing
countries during 2012.
The top countries for renewable power capacity at year’s end
were China, the United States, Brazil, Canada, and Germany;
the top countries for non-hydro capacity were China, the
United States, and Germany, followed by Spain, Italy, and
India. By region, the BRICS nations accounted for 36% of total
global renewable power capacity and almost 27% of non-hydro
renewable capacity. The EU had the most non-hydro capacity
at the end of 2012, with approximately 44% of the global total.
Renewables represent a rapidly rising share of energy supply in
a growing number of countries and regions:
In China, wind power generation increased more than
generation from coal and passed nuclear power output for
the first time.
In the European Union, renewables accounted for almost
70% of additions to electric capacity in 2012, mostly from
solar PV and wind power. In 2011 (the latest year for which
data are available), renewables met 20.6% of the region’s
electricity consumption and 13.4% of gross final energy
In Germany, renewables accounted for 22.9% of electricity
consumption (up from 20.5% in 2011), 10.4% of national
heat use, and 12.6% of total final energy demand.
The United States added more capacity from wind power
than any other technology, and all renewables made upabout half of total electric capacity additions during the year.
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