Investment in Renewables Outstrip Fossil Fuels in Europe and U.S.

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The U.S. and Europe added more power capacity in 2009 from renewable sources than from conventional sources such as coal and oil, and this year or next the world as a whole will add more capacity to the electricity supply from alternative energy sources than from fossil fuels, according to two new reports. The reports, issued by the United Nations Environmental Program and the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century, said that in 2009 renewables made up 60 percent of newly installed power capacity in Europe and more than 50 percent in the U.S.

Although global investment in green energy decreased in 2009, to $162 billion, some countries, such as China, saw rapid growth; private and public investment in clean energy in China jumped 53 percent in 2009, with the country adding 37 gigawatts of renewable power capacity — nearly half of the 80 gigawatts of renewable power capacity added worldwide last year.

China surpassed the U.S. in 2009 as the country with the largest investment in clean energy. Worldwide, investments in solar power and biofuels declined in 2009, but there was record investment in wind power, totaling $67 billion, the reports said. The reports also said the number of countries with policies encouraging green energy investment has doubled in the past five years, from 55 to more than 100.

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