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REN21: More than half of new power in U.S., EU is green

Group backed by UN and IEA says also that more green power is being added to the grid, partly because of shifting deployment and manufacture to emerging economies.

More than half of all new electricity capacity added in the United States and Europe last year was from renewable power such as wind and solar, a body backed by the International Energy Agency and the UN reported.

Last year was also a record year for the amount of new green power added to the grid, partly a result of shifting deployment and manufacture to emerging economies including Brazil, India and China, from flagging developed countries.

"In 2009, China produced 40 percent of the world's solar PV supply, 30 percent of the world's wind turbines, up from 10 percent in 2007," REN21, or the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century, said in a report Thursday.

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REN21, launched in 2005, is supported by the International Energy Agency, which advises 28 industrialized countries--and by the United Nations Environment Program.

Of an extra 80 gigawatts of new renewable power capacity added worldwide, China added 37 GW, more than any other country, said the study, titled "Renewables 2010, Global Status Report."

Despite the impact of the financial crisis and lower oil prices, renewable capacity grew at rates close to those in previous years, including solar photovoltaic power at 53 percent and wind power at 32 percent, the report said.

Grid-connected solar photovoltaic power had grown by an average of 60 percent every year for the past decade, increasing 100-fold since 2000.

That boom has been largely on the back of support in European countries, where a recent pullback following recession has raised investor jitters. But the wind and solar sectors are still poised for a record year in 2010, operators and investors say.

While China is making great strides in renewable energy deployment, its carbon emissions also accelerated in 2009--placing it further ahead as the world's top emitter of the main greenhouse gas blamed for climate change.