US overtakes China and solar outperforms wind in global clean energy boom

Global investment in clean energy reached a new record of $260bn in 2011, with solar outstripping wind and the US overtaking China as the biggest investor.

The 2011 figure, calculated by analysts at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, was up 5% on 2010 and almost five times the total of $53.6bn in 2004.

And last year also saw the one trillionth dollar invested in clean energy globally since Bloomberg started compiling data in 2004.

Investment in solar surged 36% to $136.6bn, nearly double the $74.9bn put into in wind power, which was down 17% on the previous year.

Michael Liebreich, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said: “The performance of solar is even more remarkable when you consider that the price of photovoltaic modules fell by close to 50% during 2011, and now stands 75% lower than three years ago, in mid-2008. The cost of PV technology has fallen, but the volume of PV sold has increased by a much greater factor as it approached competitiveness with other sources of power.”

The US regained the top spot as number one global investor, a position it lost to China in 2008. In 2011, investment rocketed to $55.9bn, up 33%, while saw investment rise just 1% to $47.4bn.

Liebreich commented: “The news that the US jumped back into the lead in clean energy investment last year will reassure those who worried that it was falling behind other countries.”

But he cautioned that “before anyone in Washington celebrates too much, the figure was achieved thanks in large part to support initiatives such as the federal loan guarantee programme and a Treasury grant programme which have now expired”.

Europe saw clean energy investment rise 3% to $100.2bn, with the strongest features being solar installations ” both large-scale and distributed ” in Germany and Italy, and offshore wind financings in the North Sea.

India led the table in terms of growth in investment, with a jump of 52% to $10.3bn, while Brazil clocked up a respectable 15% increase to $8.2bn.


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