January 7, 2008 (Renewable Energy Access) – At the beginning of each year, as the renewable energy industry looks back on its progress over the previous 12 months, the phrase “tipping point” always seems to enter the discussion. But how will we know when renewables have truly hit that tipping point?Will one quarter of the world’s electricity come from renewable resources? Will more investment go into clean energy than into the fossil energy industries? There’s no agreed upon standard for how to define a turning tide, but one thing is certain: 2007 clearly proved that there is a major change underway in how the world produces and consumes energy.
“If 2007 isn’t the tipping point, we are close to that,” says Janet Sawin, Director of the Energy and Climate Change program at the Worldwatch Institute in Washington, DC. “This has been a truly remarkable year, and we’re seeing impressive development figures worldwide.”
According to a REN21 2007 Renewables Global Status Report due out in February, there are now 237 gigawatts (GW) of electrical generation capacity from renewable resources online around the world.
When breaking that total capacity down among technologies, wind leads with 93 GW of total installed capacity; small hydro has 73 GW; biomass has 44 GW; geothermal has 10 GW; and PV has just under 8 GW of total installed capacity. While renewables still only make up around 5.5% of the world’s 4,300 GW of total electrical generation capacity, the REN21 report concludes that the industry “has clearly become mainstream” over the last decade. Continue reading