Despite Large Investment in Renewable Energy, Coal Dominates Worldwide Generation | 9/29/2019 | Institute for Energy Research
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Despite renewable energy investment more than tripling globally during the current decade compared to the last 10-year period, most of the power delivered to the world’s electric grids during the recent decade was from coal. In fact, coal is still the world’s largest source of electricity, providing 38% of world electrical generation in 2018, about the same as 1997. The world spent about $2.6 trillion on renewable energy projects during the decade, over three times the amount spent from 2000 to 2009. Solar photovoltaic investments totaled around $1.3 trillion, and onshore and offshore wind investment totaled around $1 trillion. Globally, solar energy capacity increased by 638 gigawatts between 2009 and 2019, while coal-fired capacity increased by 529 gigawatts, wind capacity increased 487 gigawatts, and natural gas capacity increased 436 gigawatts. Last year, $41 billion was invested in coal worldwide.

Solar capacity additions have taken off because its costs have decreased as technological advances have made solar panels smaller, cheaper to manufacture, and more efficient. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average construction cost for solar in the United States decreased by 37 percent between 2013 and 2017.

China - Spending - Electricity - World - Half

China’s spending on renewable electricity was the highest in the world at $758 billion from 2000 to the first half of 2019. The United States was second with $356 billion, followed by Japan at $202 billion. The European nations spent around $698 billion on wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources, with Germany and the United Kingdom spending the most. It is expected that 330 gigawatts of new wind power capacity will come online over the next five years, driven primarily by onshore wind power projects in the United States and China.

Investments in renewable power capacity last year, however, dropped 38 percent in China and by 6 percent in the United States, while...
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