On Tuesday, the REN21 Global Status Report for 2012 was released, showing last year was a record-breaking year for renewable energy worldwide. This is despite policy makers dragging their feet about supporting ambitious renewable energy policies.

The report shows that last year, the Renewable Energy market grew to an impressive 50% of all new power plants worldwide. We’re still worried about the other 50% of the new power plants worldwide – the gas and coal plants that governments still insist on building. 

What the REN21’s Report demonstrates is that the right policies can drive the successful integration of larger shares of renewables in the energy mix. Of the 138 countries with renewables targets or policies in place, two thirds are in the developing world.

In the lead is China, which in 2012, consolidated its position as the world’s dominant renewable energy market player. It installed 22% more renewable energy than the previous year – an equivalent of $67 billion, thanks largely to a jump in solar investment.

Elsewhere there were particularly sharp increases in South Africa, Morocco, Mexico, Chile and Kenya, with Middle East and Africa showing the highest regional growth of 228%, up to $12 billion.

Total renewable power capacity worldwide exceeded 1,470 GW in 2012 – an increase of 8.5% from 2011. Wind power accounted for about 39% of renewable power capacity added followed by hydropower and solar PV, which each accounted for approximately 26%.

14 June 2013 Worldwide Renewable Energy in 2012

© The Energy Collective / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License


Solar PV capacity reached the 100 GW milestone, surpassing bio power to become the third largest operating renewable technology, after hydro and wind.

In 2012, an estimated 5.7 million people worldwide worked directly or indirectly in the renewable energy sector. In South Africa alone, renewable energy has the potential to create 149 000 new jobs by 2030.

“We stand on the cusp of renewables becoming a central part of the world’s energy mix. However, to rapidly achieve higher renewable energy shares and secure the necessary investments, stable national and international policy frameworks that reflect the benefits of renewables are needed,” says Arthouros Zervos , Chair of REN21

“This report demonstrates how policies can drive the successful integration of large shares of renewables in the energy mix while simultaneously benefitting the economy and the environment.”

For a country that is under huge energy pressures and is threatened by increasing water scarcity, South Africans need to be empowered to make optimum use of their abundant renewable energy resources.

Encouraging citizens to produce their own power will catalyse a solar roof top revolution.