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Although implemented at smaller scales for thousands of years, across a range of countries, hydropower output did not feature at large production scales with pumped storage development until the s.
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Today, traditional biofuels remain the largest source of renewables, accounting for percent of the total. The World Bank reports that only 7 percent of the world's low-income households have access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking; the average share in Sub-Saharan Africa was 13 percent; and approximately one-third in South Asia.
Of the remaining renewable technologies, hydropower remains dominant, accounting for approximately one-quarter of renewable consumption. Renewable technologies with exception to traditional biomass are often termed 'modern renewables'. These include hydropower, solar, wind, geothermal and modern biofuel production including modern forms of waste-to-biomass conversion. This is measured in terawatt-hours per year and can be viewed across a range of countries and regions.
Globally, the world produced approximately 5. This represents a 5 to 6-fold increase since the s.
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Here we see that hydropower remains the dominant form of modern renewables consumption, accounting for almost 70 percent. Despite absolute growth in production, hydropower's share is, however, declining as other renewable technologies grow. But how much are we really investing in the sector, and how is this finance distributed across the world? In the graph below we see global investments in renewable technologies from to measured in billion USD per year.
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In , the world invested 47 billion USD. By , this had increased to billion USD, an increase of more than percent.
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Investment has grown across all regions, but at significantly different rates. China is now the largest single investor in renewable technologies, investing approximately the same as the United States, Europe and India combined. Europe's investment has been through a significant growth-peak-reduction trend, peaking in at billion USD before declining to 49 billion USD in Levels of absolute investment tell an important story, but are disadvantaged by the fact that they take no account of the size of investments relative to a country's economy.
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We might expect that the largest economies would also be the largest investors.