Global investment in renewable energy rose by 16% in 2014, boosted by fast-growing solar power in the US and China. Solar, whose costs have plummeted in recent years, attracted over half the total funding for the first time.
The new figures, from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), show £205bn was invested into renewable energy last year, just short of the record £209bn in 2011. However, as green energy gets ever cheaper, the money invested in 2014 bought almost double the clean electricity capacity than in 2011.
“The investment bounce back in 2014 exceeded our expectations,” said Michael Liebreich, chairman of BNEF’s advisory board. “Solar was the biggest single contributor, thanks to the huge improvements in its cost-competitiveness over the last five years.”
Solar investment rose by 25% in 2014, while wind power rose 11% to comprise a third of all investment. Energy efficiency and electric vehicles rose 10%, including the £1.5bn Tesla Motors raised.
China was the clear national leader, with investment rising 32% to £59bn, with the US second, up 8% to £34bn, and Japan up 12% to £27bn. Canada, Brazil and India all saw significant rises too, to about £5.9bn. In both the UK and Germany, investment rose 3% to about $15bn, while France jumped up 25% to $7bn, in part due to Europe’s biggest ever solar photovoltaic plant, the 300MW Cestas project.
Among the mega solar projects financed in 2014 were the $1bn Setouchi solar project in Japan, the $1bn Xina Solar One plant in South Africa, and the $860m Lake Turkana wind project in Kenya.
Ed Davey, the UK’s energy and climate change secretary said: “Renewables are proving they can be cost competitive, which is why they are playing a key role in powering the economic recovery. We are transforming our electricity market [and] that’s why the UK is a leading destination for renewables and is number one for offshore wind. Since 2010, renewable electricity generation has almost trebled and renewable electricity investment has more than doubled.”
“The figures show that renewable energy is increasingly cost-competitive, with solar in particular rapidly approaching parity with fossil-fuel generation. They suggest also that investors are growing weary of increasingly volatile fossil fuel markets,” said Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit.
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This article has been adapted from an article published in The Guardian.