In 2010, renewables accounted for 16% of energy consumption and 20% of global electricity demand. According to the report, renewables generated about half of the total capacity installed by all sources, including fossil fuels like gas and coal. The renewable installed capacity of wind power, concentrating solar power, solar energy photovoltaic and geothermal energy, excluding hydro, rose from 250 to 312 GW between 2009 and 2010 (+25%), wind farm ranking first (from 159 to 198 GW).
This “green revolution” was mainly pushed by energy policies, which still are the main growth driver in this field. Indeed, at the beginning of 2011, at least 119 countries had set domestic targets supporting renewable sources, almost twice as many as in 2009. This trend was confirmed by the UNEP, which in its Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2011 highlighted investments for unprecedented 211 billion, about a third more than in 2009, and over five times the sum invested in 2004.
The first five countries with the largest “green” capacity (excluding hydro) are the United States, China, Germany, Spain and India. The USA are top leaders with 56 GW followed by China with 50 and Germany with 49. Overall, emerging countries own more than half the capacity from clean technologies.
For instance, China surpassed all other nations regarding the amount of wind turbines and solar thermal solar plants, and is also the country with the greatest hydro production. In 2010 it added 29 GW of renewable capacity (now totalling 263 GW), of which 18.9 from wind, with a total predominance at a global level. In South America, Brazil produced almost all the sugar cane ethanol that is globally commercialized, and it also added new hydropower, wind energy and thermal from biomass and solar power, with a total installed capacity of 112 GW.