Chinese workers with a solar panel

Last year, global investment in renewable energy passed the quarter-trillion-dollar mark, hitting $257 billion, according to the United Nations Environment Program.

In other words, investors spent about $38 for every human being on Earth. Someone needs to tell these job creators that they’re ruining a lot of people’s arguments about the green economy.

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Much of the growth came in solar. Between 2010 and 2011, investment in solar firms grew 52 percent to $147 billion, though wind investments dropped 12 percent globally. The United States, which had been getting outpaced in recent years, moved back into second place — spurred in part by fears that tax incentives for renewables would expire and not be renewed.

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Perhaps the most optimistic finding from the report:

Renewable power, excluding large hydro-electric, accounted for 44% of all new generating capacity added worldwide in 2011 (up from 34% in 2010). This accounted for 31% of actual new power generated, due to lower capacity factors for solar and wind capacity.

In other words, nearly half of the new power generation in the world in 2011 came from renewable sources. That’s still a small fraction of the electricity generated, but moving in the right direction.

Job creators. Is there anything they can’t do?

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