The US overtook China to regain top position as the world’s leading investor in “clean” energy last year, thanks to the Obama administration’s subsidy programme, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

It was the first year since 2008 that the US has been ahead of China as the world’s largest market for investment in renewable energy, biofuels and energy efficiency.

However, it may drop back again this year after the end of two key subsidy programmes introduced as part of the 2009 economic stimulus package: grants for renewable energy projects and government loan guarantees to encourage private sector investment.

Analysts and investors said the future of global clean energy investment depended on bringing down costs to the point where technologies such as solar and wind power could compete against fossil fuels without subsidy.

In spite of the turbulence in the world economy and the continuing failure to reach a global agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions, worldwide investment in clean energy rose 5 per cent to a record at $260bn, according to Bloomberg NEF.

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