Global Investment Boom in Renewable Energy

Posted 13th January 2015 by Stephanie Stefanovic

2014 saw the escalation of global investment in renewable energy, led by the US and China.

Global investment in renewable energy increased by 16 per cent in 2014, aided particularly by large-scale solar projects in the US and China. Figures from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) show that US$310 billion was spent on renewable energy in 2014, which is just shy of the record of $317 billion in 2011.

“These figures have exceeded our expectations,” said Michael Liebreich, chairman of BNEF's advisory board. “Solar was the biggest contributor, thanks to the huge improvements in its cost-competitiveness over the last five years.”

Indeed, 2014 saw investment in solar power swell by 25 per cent, followed by an 11 per cent increase in wind power investment and a 10 per cent increase for energy-efficient and electric vehicles. However, owing to questions surrounding their sustainability, investment in biomass projects fell by 10 per cent, followed by a 7 per cent decrease in biofuel investment.

Alongside this, there has been a noticeable decrease in financial backing for marginal coal projects, according to Australian Greens Senator Christine Milne. “The rapid growth in the divestment movement has surprised everybody around the world,” said Milne. “Some of the banks are moving out of coal assets because they recognise that the market is going to drop, and China is now capping the import of coal with the rapid expansion of renewables around the planet.”

This has come at a time when many were concerned that the recent drop in oil prices would lead to decreased funding for low-carbon energy. However, the figures show that renewable energy is increasingly cost-competitive, according to director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, Richard Black. “They suggest also that investors are growing weary of increasingly volatile fossil fuel markets,” said Black.

Source: Carrington, D 2015, 'Solar Power Drives Renewable Energy Investment Boom in 2014', The Guardian,10 January, viewed 12 January 2015.

Downing, L 2015, 'Clean Energy Investment Jumps 16%, Shaking Off Oil's Drop', Bloomberg, 10 January, viewed 12 January 2015.

Moore, T 2015, 'Queensland Election: World Looking at 'Fossil-fuel Free Existence', Brisbane Times, 12 January, viewed 12 January 2015.

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