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Economic crisis hits EU and US clean energy, but investment still up

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) says US$155 billion was invested in 2008 in clean energy companies and projects worldwide - not including large hydro – an increase over 2007, but growth is slowing with the economic crisis.

Of the US$155bn, US$13.5bn of new private investment went into companies developing and scaling-up new renewable energy technologies alongside US$117bn of investment in renewable energy projects from geothermal and wind to solar and biofuels.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, says: "Without doubt the economic crisis has taken its toll on investments in clean energy when set against the record-breaking growth of recent years. Investment in the United States fell by 2% and in Europe growth was very much muted. However, there were also some bright points in 2008 especially in developing economies – China became the world's second largest wind market in terms of new capacity and the world's biggest photovoltaic manufacturer and a rise in geothermal energy may be getting underway in countries from Australia to Japan and Kenya".

2008 investment in clean renewable energy topped 2007's record investments by 5% in large part as a result of China, Brazil and other emerging economies, UNEP says.

Of the total US$155bn, US$105bn was spent directly developing 40 GW of power generating capacity from renewables such as wind, solar, small-hydro, biomass and geothermal sources.

A further US$35bn was spent on developing 25 GW of large hydropower, according to the UNEP report.

Renewables currently account for the majority of investment and over 40% of actual power generation capacity additions last year.

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Bioenergy  •  Geothermal  •  Other marine energy and hydropower  •  Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Policy, investment and markets  •  Solar electricity  •  Wind power