Renewable energy and other low-carbon technologies are now a successful mainstream business with investors spending $207 USD billion in the sector last year, according to a report released Monday by Clean Energy Canada.
The report — Tracking the Energy Revolution — also said that carbon-based fuels would remain an important part of the global energy system for decades but added that “for the first time in more than a century, multiple signs suggest that their dominance is beginning to wane.”
Global fossil-fuel power generation investment last year totalled $270 billion, the report said, only $63 billion more than for clean energy investments.
It is clear that falling equipment costs, strong investor interest, and government and business leadership are driving a global clean energy revolution, the 18-page report added.
“When it comes to addressing climate disruption, the countries that succeed on the world stage are those taking action at home,” Merran Smith, director of Clean Energy Canada, said in an accompanying media release.
“We found scores of countries and leading companies — from China to the United States — that are fighting climate disruption by cleaning up their energy systems.”
Smith was critical, however, of the Canadian government for showing a lack of interest in supporting green energy.
“Provincial governments are helping Canada play a growing role in that revolution, despite scant federal support for the sector,” she said.
“Thanks to provincial leadership, Canada is a significant player in the global clean energy market. In 2013, ours was the second-fastest growing clean-energy market in the G20, with a 45 per cent increase in investment to $6.5 billion.”
The report said China, the U.S. and Japan were the top three national investors in low-carbon technologies such as wind and solar power last year, spending $55 billion, $36 billion and $30 billion respectively.
By the end of last year 144 countries had renewable-energy targets, the report said. Uruguay has the top 2020 policy target of 100 per cent of primary or final energy to be sourced from clean and renewable sources in six years. Scotland’s 2020 target is 80 per cent and Norway’s is 68 per cent.
China, the world’s largest polluter, invested more last year in new clean energy power plants than it did in new coal power plants, said the report, released one day before the UN Climate Summit in New York.
Sixty per cent of Fortune 100 firms now have goals for renewable energy sourcing and/or greenhouse gas reductions, the report said, adding 6.5 million people now work in the global renewable energy industry.
In a telephone interview with DeSmog Canada, Smith said the federal government is reluctant to engage the low-carbon revolution because it doesn’t understand how big and how fast the clean energy transition is happening.
“This is where big investment dollars are already, and are going to,” she said. “Canada needs to wake up and quit ignoring this. We can’t put all our eggs in the fossil fuel basket.”
She said that the U.S., the European Union, China and other nations are embracing the clean energy economy because technology costs are plunging, it can clean up the air quality, it can provide national energy security, and there are many good business opportunities.
“We are at the tipping point and this is becoming the new business-as-usual,” she said. “This is real, this is big, this is unstoppable.”
The Vancouver-based Clean Energy Canada is a project of Tides Canada Initiatives Society, a group of charities dedicated to social and environmental issues.
Image Credit: Clean Energy Canada