Clean energy investment sustains its recovery

Results of the 3rd quarter show it

World clean energy (renewable energy) investment in the first three quarters of this year was 16% ahead of the same period of 2013, at $175.1bn, making it almost certain that 2014 will produce a bounce back in money invested after two years of decline. Authoritative figures published by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, show that clean energy investment in the July-to-September quarter was $55bn, up 12% from the $48.9bn achieved in the same quarter of 2013.

The highlight of the third quarter was a leap in Chinese solar investment to a new record of $12.2bn, up from $7.5bn in Q3 2013 and $8bn in Q2 2014. China is building a large number of utility-scale photovoltaic projects linked to its main transmission grid, and Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecasts that its solar installations will total 13-14GW in 2014, nearly a third of the world total.

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There were other strong investment figures in Q3 from Japan, at 8.6bn, up 17% from the same quarter in 2013, with solar again the dominant renewable energy source. Other countries showing a bounce in investment in the latest quarter were Canada, France and India, while there were significant projects financed in a number of new markets, including Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

The Q3 2014 figures showed global asset finance for clean energy projects such as wind farms, solar parks and geothermal plants reaching $33.3bn, up slightly from $32.8bn in the third quarter of last year. Investment in small-scale projects such as rooftop solar was $18.3bn, up from $13.9bn a year earlier, while equity capital raised by specialist clean energy companies on the public markets was $2.7bn, up from $2bn in Q3 2013. Venture capital and private equity investment was $918m in Q3 2014, up from a multi-year low of $592m in the same quarter of 2013.

A regional breakdown of clean energy investment showed the continuing troubles of the sector in Europe, where just $8.8bn was committed last quarter, the lowest figure for over eight years, down from $12.1bn a year ago. There was a notably weak total from the UK, at $789m, down from $3.1bn a year earlier as policy uncertainties took a toll. Germany was at $1.5bn compared to $1.6bn in Q3 2013, and Italy at just $262m compared to $1bn, reflecting the impact on investor confidence of retroactive cuts in support for existing solar projects. France saw a rise to $1.4bn from $951m in Q3 2013.

The US saw clean energy investment of $7.3bn in Q3 2014, well down from $10.7bn in Q2 but up from $5.7bn in the third quarter of last year. Overall Chinese clean energy investment was $19.9bn in Q3, up from $15.1bn a year earlier, while India’s investment totalled $2bn, up from $1.3bn.