Nearly 44 per cent of all power generating capacity added last year consisted of clean, renewable energy.

The latest Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment report, published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), indicates that 43.6 per cent of all newly installed electricity generating capacity in 2013 consisted of renewable energy.

The report further indicates that non-hydro renewables increased their share of total global generation from 7.8 per cent to 8.5 per cent last year, achieving a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of 1.2 billion tonnes.

Renewable energy companies also experienced a major turnaround in 2013, with shares surging by 54 per cent after spiralling lower in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis.

These impressive figures for renewable energy in 2013 were achieved despite a second consecutive year of declining global investment. A Pew Charitable Trusts report indicates that clean energy investment in 2013 was $254 billion in total, declining 20 per cent from its peak in $318 billion, as well as 11 per cent compared to the figure for 2012.

Even the world’s two biggest investors in renewable energy, China and the United States, dialled down their investments in the sector in 2013, from $57.8 billion to $54.2 billion and $40.3 billion to $36.7 billion respectively.

Despite leading the charge towardsrenewable energy for over a decade, Europe slashed investment by 44 per cent last year as a result of its dire financial straits, with the noteworthy exception of the UK, where investment gained by 12 per cent, enabling the country to take the lead over Germany for the first time ever.

The other major exception to reduced spending clean energy last year was Japan, where the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster has spurred a drive toward solar energy, leading to an 80 per cent leap in investment.

Plunging prices promise to bolster the uptake of renewable energy in future, with the cost of solar power generation declining by 25 per cent in the past five year, and the cost of wind power generation falling by over half during the same period.

The UNEP report points out that as a consequence of these dwindling costs an increasing number of clean energy projects are being pursued without the backing of government subsidies.