Australian renewable investment hits $11b

Australia’s renewable energy investment has jumped 147 per cent, reaching US$8.5 billion (AU$11 billion), according to a new United Nations (UN) report.

The UN Environment Programme’s Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2018 report shows the growth of renewable energy doubled that of coal, gas and nuclear combined around the world in 2017.

Last year, more than 98GW of new solar capacity was installed globally, half of that (53GW) coming from China.

Solar power also attracted far more investment than any other technology, at $209.2 billion.

“The extraordinary surge in solar investment shows how the global energy map is changing and, more importantly, what the economic benefits are of such a shift,” UNEP chief Erik Solheim said.

“Investments in renewables bring more people into the economy, they deliver more jobs, better quality jobs and better paid jobs.

“Clean energy also means less pollution, which means healthier, happier development.”

Last year was the eighth in a row in which global investment in renewables exceeded US$200 billion – and since 2004, the world has invested US$2.9 trillion in these green energy sources.

Climate Council acting CEO Dr Martin Rice said the record global renewable energy boom shows the technology is playing a crucial role in transitioning the world away from fossil fuels in a bid to tackle climate change.

“Australia is one of the sunniest and windiest countries in the world, so we shouldn’t be surprised that investment in renewables such as wind and solar is thriving and continues to topple new records around the world,” he said.

“If Australia maintains this momentum then we could see the phasing out of coal within the next two decades, transitioning the nation to an energy grid fit for the 21st century and one that slashes our rising greenhouse gas pollution levels.”

Dr Rice said the report also highlighted the global push towards clean, affordable and reliable renewable energy and storage technology was continuing to build significant momentum, with record-breaking results.

“China alone is now leading the world for renewable energy, with its investment last year accounting for 45 per cent of the global total in renewables investment, reaching a staggering $164.7 billion,” he said.

The UN recognised Australia as a key contender in the worldwide renewables energy race, with solar investment climbing to $6.4 billion and wind $4.7 billion.