Clean Energy Investment Retreated in 2012 Despite China Surge

From The Sydney Morning Herald

Clean energy investment slid 11 per cent last year after governments in industrial nations slashed subsidies for technologies ranging from wind turbines to solar power and biomass.

The $US268.7 billion ($254.4 billion) invested in the industry last year was down from a record $US302.3 billion in 2011, the second highest reading ever and was five times the level in 2004, according to data compiled by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Investment fell 32 per cent in the US, 51 per cent in Italy, 68 per cent in Spain and 44 per cent in India. That offset gains in China and from small hydropower projects, which were among the few bright spots in the report released today.

“The most striking aspect of these figures is that the decline was not bigger given the fierce headwinds the clean energy sector faced,” Michael Liebreich, chief executive of BNEF, said in the statement.

He attributed the declines to the debt crises in the US and Europe, which pared support for incentives that bolster the industry, and to a 24 per cent decline in solar panel prices last year. All segments of the renewable energy industry experienced a drop in investment except for small hydro, which rose 17 per cent to $US7.6 billion.

Solar projects reaped the most funding with $US142.5 billion of the total, followed by wind at $US78.3 billion. Energy-smart technologies including electric vehicles and energy efficiency saw $US18.8 billion investment. Biomass and waste-to-energy investment declined 27 per cent to $US9.7 billion.

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