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Growth of renewables transforms global energy picture

"Growth of renewables transforms global energy picture(By Environment News Service - via Reuters)In 2008 for the first time, more renewable energy than conventional power
capacity was added in both the European Union and United States, showing a
""fundamental transition"" of the world's energy markets towards renewable
energy, finds a report released today by REN21, a global renewable energy
policy network based in Paris.Global power capacity from new renewable energy sources in 2008 was up 16
percent over the world's 2007 capacity from new renewable sources, the
REN21 Renewables Global Status Report shows.""This fourth edition of REN21's renewable energy report comes in the midst
of an historic and global economic crisis,"" says Mohamed El-Ashry, chairman
of REN21.""Although the future is unclear, there is much in the report for optimism,""
said El-Ashry, an Egyptian national who from 1991 to 2003 served as the
first CEO of the Global Environment Facility, which provides grants to
developing countries for environmental projects.Today, at least 73 countries have renewable energy policy targets, up from
66 at the end of 2007. At least 64 countries now have some type of policy
to promote renewable power generation.Companies are devoting an increasing amount of capital to renewables. By
August 2008, at least 160 publicly traded renewable energy companies
worldwide had a market capitalization greater than $100 million, the report
shows.Globally in 2008, solar heating capacity increased by 15 percent, while
biodiesel and ethanol production both increased by 34 percent.China'stotal wind powercapacity doubled in 2008 for the fifth year running,
and developing countries, particularly China and India, are increasingly
playing major roles in both the manufacture and installation of renewable
energy, the report shows.""The recent growth of the sector has surpassed all predictions, even those
made by the industry itself,"" says El-Ashry. He attributed much of this
growth to more favorable policies amidst increasing concerns about climate
change and energy security.In 2008, renewable energy resisted the credit crunch more successfully than
many other sectors for much of the year and new investment reached $120
billion, up 16 percent over 2007. However, by the end of the year, the
impact of the crisis was beginning to show.In his remarks accompanying release of the REN21 report, El-Ashry stressed
that ""now is not the time to relax policies that support a global,
expanding renewable energy sector.""""By maintaining and expanding these policies, governments, industry and
society will reap substantial economic and environmental rewards when the
economic rebound requires energy markets to meet rapidly increasing
demand,"" he advised.The report notes that in response to the financial crisis, several
governments have directed economic stimulus funding towards the new green
jobs the renewable energy sector can provide, including the U.S. package
that will invest $150 billion over 10 years in renewable energy.Global wind power capacity grew by 29 percent in 2008 to reach 121
gigawatts, or more than double the capacity in place at the end of 2005.Grid-connected solar photovoltaic power continued to be the fastest growing
power generation technology, with a 70 percent increase in existing
capacity to reach 13 gigawatts.Spainbecame the solarphotovoltaic market leader, with 2.6 gigawatts of new
grid-tied installations. The concentrating solar power industry saw many
new entrants and new manufacturing facilities in 2008.Solar hot water in Germanyset record growth in 2008, with over 200,000
systems installed.India emerged in 2008 as a major producer of solar photovoltaics, with new
policies leading to $18 billion in new manufacturing investment plans or
proposals.Geothermalpower capacity surpassed 10 gigawatts in 2008, led by the United
States. Direct geothermal energy delivered by ground source heat pumps is
now used in a"