2010: Clean energy investment up to US$243 billion

Global clean energy finance and investment grew significantly in 2010 to US$243 billion, a 30% increase from 2009, according to recent research.

By Renewable Energy Focus staff

According to a new report - Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race? 2010 Edition - released by The Pew Charitable Trusts and data provider Bloomberg New Energy Finance, China continued to solidify its position as the world’s clean energy powerhouse. Its record US$54.4 billion was up 39% from 2009.

Germany rose to second place out of the G-20 nations, after experiencing a 100% increase - to US$41.2 billion.

“The clean energy sector is emerging as one of the most dynamic and competitive in the world, witnessing 630 percent growth in finance and investments since 2004,” said Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew’s Clean Energy Program. “Countries like China, Germany and India were attractive to financers because they have national policies that support renewable energy standards, carbon reduction targets and/or incentives for investment and production and that create long-term certainty for investors.”

Italy attracted US$13.9 bn in clean energy financing, rising to fourth in the table (from eighth in 2009). The report noted that Italy is the first country to achieve grid parity for solar energy. For the first time, India joined the top 10 ranking, attracting US$4 billion, a 25% increase over 2009.

The U.S. however, which had maintained the top spot until 2008, fell another rung in 2010 to third with US$34 billion, despite having the highest VC (early stage) funding of any nation.

According to Michael Liebreich of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, this highlights the different approach taken by the U.S., which hopes to invest in VC and technology development, and capitalise later as new and potential breakthrough technologies come on stream. This is in contrast to Europe, where investment has been used to stimulate demand (i.e. Feed-in Tariffs/Round 3 in the UK); and Asia which aims to capture the supply chain (PV Modules/Wind turbines).

However, this is a risky strategy, and Cuttino warns that the lack of political support could end up stopping the development of clean energy manufacturing and jobs, and effectively push talent out of the country.

Meanwhile, the UK experienced the largest decline among the G-20 nations, falling from fifth to 13th, though Liebreich pointed out that one reason may be the massive investment in 2009 resulting from the offshore wind Round 2 program – not being replicated in 2010.

Wind power continued to be the favoured technology for investors at US$95 billion. However, the solar sector experienced significant growth in 2010, with investments growing 53% to a record US$79 billion, with more than 17 GW of new generating capacity globally. Germany accounted for 45% of global solar investments.

“Looking at global trends, the solar sector experienced the strongest growth among the various technologies, led by small-scale residential projects,” said Liebreich: “Declining prices and important government support helped the solar sector achieve 40 percent of total clean energy investment in 2010.”


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