Growth of Global Solar and Wind Energy Continues to Outpace Other Technologies

Global use of solar and wind energy continued to grow significantly in 2012. Solar power consumption increased by 58 percent, to 93 terrawatt-hours (TWh).Use of wind power increased in 2012 by 18.1 percent, to 521.3 TWh.2

Although hydropower remains the world’s leading renewable energy, solar and wind continue to dominate investment in new renewable capacity. They are quickly becoming the highest-profile renewable energies. And since most renewable energy policies worldwide focus on one or both of these resources, it is important to consider them together.

Global solar and wind energy capacities continued to grow even though new investments in these energy sources declined during 2012. Global investment in solar energy in 2012 was $140.4 billion, an 11 percent decline from 2011, and wind investment was down 10.1 percent, to $80.3 billion.3 (See Figure 1.) But due to lower costs for both technologies, total installed capacities grew sharply.4 (See Figure 2.)

Solar and Wind Fig.1

For full access to the complete trend and its associated charts, log in to Vital Signs or:

Subscribe to all vital signs trends
OR
Purchase This Trend

Annual subscribers to Vital Signs Online have full access to all our trends and charts.

The Worldwatch Institute is an independent research organization known around the world for its accessible, fact-based analysis of critical global issues. Learn More