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Energy

UNEP report sees slowdown in renewable energy investments

Global demand for renewable energy has continued to rise steadily, a fresh United Nations report has shown. But the study also pointed out that lower prices had prompted a reduction in revenue in the sector.

For only the second year since 2006, global investments in regenerative sources of energy in 2012 failed to top levels of the previous year, a report by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) showed Wednesday. The world geneterate more power from renewable sources than ever before, however, pointing to improved efficiency in the sector.

Year-on-year investments drooped by 12 percent, largely due to dramatically lower prices for solar panels and weak US and EU markets, the survey claimed.

The report pointed out, though, that despite a lower increase in resources spent on extending the use of renewables, overall investments last year totaled $244 billion (183.7 billion euros) worldwide, the second largest annual amount ever recorded for the sector.

Major employer

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said the uptake of renewable energies continued globally, with a dramatic surge in current projects.

"There have been sharp falls in manufacturing costs of wind turbines and solar panels, contributing to a shake-out in the industry in 2012," Steiner said. "This is not only normal in a rapidly growing industry, but is also likely to lead to even more competition with even bigger gains for consumers."

Total renewable power generation capacity hit another record last year at 115 GW of new capacities installed globally and totaling 1,470 GW, up 8.5 percent from 2011.

The UNEP study said an estimated 5.7 million people worked in the sector last year. But it added that although a growing number of nations invested in renewables, the bulk of employment remained concentrated in Brazil, China, India, the EU and the US.