Pew releases clean energy investment report

By Erin Voegele | April 26, 2013

The Pew Charitable Trusts has published the 2012 edition of its “Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race?” report. The analysis offers an update of Pew’s reports tracking clean energy investments over the past nine years. Underlying data for the report was combined for Pew by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

According to Pew, overall investment in the clean energy sector last year was five times greater than it was in 2004. However, 2012 investment levels worldwide decreased by 11 percent from 2011, reaching a level of $269 billion. Looking at the data in three-year increments, Pew said the average clean energy investment has increased by at least $90 billion triennially, averaging $64 million per year from 2004 to 2066, $156 billion per year in 2007 through 2009 and $245 billion per year from 2010 through 2012.

The report notes that global investment in biomass/waste-to-energy, geothermal, marine and small hydro technologies fell by 29 percent to $13.5 billion in 2012. The biofuels sector also experienced a drop of 47 percent from 2011 to 2012, when global investments reached only $2.6 billion.

In a press release announcing the report, Pew noted that although investments in the clean energy declined last year, the sector has weathered the withdrawal of priority incentives offered by governments in numerous key markets, demonstrating its resilience. The organization also noted that the clean energy sector also continues to demonstrate dynamism as the cost of these technologies declines in the global marketplace.

In 2012, China became the leader in clean energy investment, attracting 47 percent of global investment in the “other renewable energy category,” which includes biomass, small hydro, geothermal and marine. This investment equaled $6.3 billion.

According to the report, total worldwide installed capacity of biomass and waste-to-energy technology has reached 66 gigawatts (GW). The U.S. has the most installed biomass and waste-to-energy capacity in the world, with 13.4 GW of biomass power capacity. The U.S. also currently leads the world in biofuel-related investments, attracting $1.5 billion in investment last year.

Regarding financing type, the report specifies that asset finding for biofuels declined to $1.4 billion last year, well below the 2011 level. Public market financing for biofuels in 2012 equaled $400 million.

The report also includes profiles for each country or group of countries analyzed, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, the U.K., the U.S, and a group of countries comprised of the other members of the EU-27. Each profile includes data on 2012 finance and investments, installed clean energy capacity, key investment incentives, and clean energy targets.

 A full copy of the report can be downloaded from the Pew website.