Clean energy investment hits a record high

By Maura Forrest

January 21, 2016

Global clean energy investment hit a record high of $329 billion in 2015, according to new figures.

The increase is thanks in part to investment surges in China, Africa, the United States, Latin America and India, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

The figure tops 2014’s total of $316 billion in clean energy investment, and the previous record, set in 2011.

China was by far the world’s largest clean tech investor, contributing $110.5 billion on its own. The U.S. came in second, with $56 billion invested. Europe’s clean energy investment is declining overall, though the U.K.’s investment increased by 24 per cent to $23.5 billion.

The study also found that new markets in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East have high potential for clean energy development and are quickly ramping up investment in the industry.

Canada, however, did not perform as well as its neighbour to the south, with clean energy investment falling 43 per cent to $4.1 billion last year.

The largest piece of the total global investment – $199 billion – went to asset finance of utility-scale projects, including solar parks, wind farms and waste-to-energy plants.

The largest individual projects that were financed last year include offshore wind arrays in the North Sea and off the coast of China, an onshore wind farm in Mexico, a biomass project in Brazil and a geothermal project in Turkey.

Rooftop and small-scale solar projects also received $67.4 billion of investment.

The record investment was achieved despite a number of setbacks, including a weak economy in Europe. The declining cost of solar technology might also have affected investment figures, since more panels can now be installed for the same price.

But the biggest source of uncertainty was the decline in oil prices, which have dropped by 55 per cent in the last seven months.

Still, that doesn’t seem to have stopped the rise of renewables.

“These figures are a stunning riposte to all those who expected clean energy investment to stall on falling oil and gas prices,” said Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, in a news release. “They highlight the improving cost-competitiveness of solar and wind power.”

Photo Credit: Deni Williams