As we come to the close of what has been a challenging year for the global economy, we are pleased to report positive news in the clean energy investment sector.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) data shows that for the first time ever, investments in clean energy are surpassing investments in new fossil fuel power. The clean energy sector recently received its trillionth investment dollar since BNEF record-keeping began in 2004.
2010 saw $187 billion of investment capital funneled into wind, solar, wave and biomass projects, compared with $157 billion for natural gas, coal and oil.
Since 2004, annual clean energy investment has increased nearly five times over, from $52 billion in 2004 to $243 billion in 2010; achieving a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 29%. Over the next eight years, BNEF predicts that figure will double, reaching $395 billion a year by 2020.
“The trillionth-dollar milestone shows that the world is not waiting for a deal on climate in order to start turning the super-tanker away from fossil fuels,” said BNEF chief executive Michael Liebreich, referring to the recent climate conference in Durban, South Africa.
“It should serve as a message to the UN and all those in Durban to stop obsessing about a binding deal to cap carbon emissions, and to think much harder about how to speed up investment in the solutions. Another five years of investment growth at the same compound rates, and the world will have broken the back of emissions growth.”
Despite the general economic malaise and continued sovereign debt problems in the European Union, spending in clean energy has been resilient. Falling costs and favorable government policies have sped up the pace of wind and solar power installments in places such as China, South Korea, Germany, Italy and the Middle East.
Year after year, actual annual investment levels in clean energy have consistently been higher than predicted investment levels. Last year was no exception. Despite somewhat lowered expectations early on, a record $243 billion was invested in clean energy around the world in 2010.