Total global investment in renewable energy technologies was 25% higher last year compared to 2005, topping $100 billion, according to a United Nations Environment Programme analysis.
The report attributes the sector’s boom to a range of global concerns – climate change, increasing energy demand and energy security foremost among them.
It credits as well the November 2006 U.S. mid-term elections, which confirmed renewable energy as “a mainstream issue,” moving it up the political agenda.
Also spurring the sector’s growth has been the persistently high price of oil – averaging more than $60 a barrel in 2006 (although one report conclusion is that the sector is becoming more independent of the price of oil).
The majority of that money – $71 billion – was invested in companies and new sector opportunities, 43% more than the year before. Another $30 billion came from mergers, acquisitions, buyouts, and asset refinancing.
Most of the investments are going towards wind power, solar energy, and biofuels, with $28 billion invested in new generating capacity.