Clean Energy investment around the world declined by 11% in 2012, according to new research.
The figures from Bloomberg New Energy Finance reveal that overall global investment in 2012 was $268.7bn, down from $302.3bn in 2011.
Investment was weighed down by regulatory uncertainty and policy changes in big markets such as the US, India, Spain and Italy. The US, for example, saw a 32% drop in the face of worries during most of the year about the expiry of a key support program and competition from gas-fired projects.
Key statistics per technology
As in previous years, solar was once again the dominant sector in terms of overall clean energy investment in 2012, accounting for $142.5bn, down 9% on its 2011 record.
Wind saw investment of $78.3bn, down 13%.
The third largest sector, energy-smart technologies such as smart grid, energy efficiency and electric vehicles, suffered a 7% drop to $18.8bn .
Biomass and waste-to-energy was the fourth largest sector, at $9.7bn in 2012, but this was 27% down on the previous year’s figure.
Biofuels, the second largest sector back in 2006, saw investment fall 38% to $4.5bn.
Geothermal experienced a 39% drop to $1.8bn.
The only sector to show growth in 2012 was small hydro (projects of less than 50MW), which saw a 17% rise in investment to $7.6bn.
China leads the way
Despite the drop in investment, the total 2012 investment total was the still the second highest ever, and five times that of 2004.
China’s clean energy investment for 2012 amounted to a record $67.7bn, up 20% on the previous year thanks to a surge in its solar sector. Other strong performers were South Africa, which saw investment leap to $5.5bn, from just a few tens of millions in 2011, and Japan, where the fresh emphasis on renewable power after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 and the start of a new subsidy programme, helped investment soar 75% in 2012 to $16.3bn .
The ‘death’ of clean energy investment?
Michael Liebreich, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said: “We warned at the start of last year that investment in 2012 was likely to fall below 2011 levels, but rumours of the death of clean energy investment have been greatly exaggerated.
“Indeed, the most striking aspect of these figures is that the decline was not bigger – given the fierce headwinds the clean energy sector faced in 2012 as a result of policy uncertainty, the ongoing European fiscal crisis, and continuing sharp falls in technology costs."