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Clean Energy Receives Global Investment Boost

The energy front saw a boost in funding over the past year, a trend we hope to see continue through 2012. Reuters recently reported that global investment in clean energy hit a record $260 billion in 2011, up 5 percent from the previous year.

A major attribution to the rise was the growth in solar energy investment at more than a third over the previous year, despite shrinking profit margins, some bankruptcies and flagging share prices. – Reuters

Investment on the Rise

Some of the key points from the report include:

  • The United States regained its title as the top country for clean energy investment, beating China for the first time since 2008. – Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF)
  • Global clean energy growth was driven mainly by solar, with investment growing by 36 percent to $136.6 billion – a 50 percent drop in prices for photovoltaic panels spurred installation.
  • Clean energy investments in the United States rose by 33 percent to nearly $56 billion, while those in China edged up 1 percent to $47.4 billion.
  • Clean energy investment in Europe rose 3 percent to around $100 billion, in India jumped 52 percent to $10.3 billion and in Brazil increased 15 percent to $8.2 billion.
  • Utility-scale renewable energy projects saw an increase in investments to $145.6 billion in 2011, up from $138.3 billion the previous year.

Not all of the news was great, however:

  • Wind power investment fell 17 percent to $74.9 billion.
  • Many solar stocks retreated by more than 60 percent as prices for panels that convert sunlight into electricity fell sharply, erasing profit margins for manufacturers.
  • A number of companies lost their fight for survival, such as Germany’s Solon SE and Solar Millennium, which both sank into insolvency in December. That follows U.S. companies Evergreen Solar, SpectraWatt and Solyndra.
  • Fundraising in public markets and investment in government and corporate research and development all fell last year.

On the plus side, it is becoming more affordable for homes and businesses to invest in renewable and clean energy – primarily with solar energy. However, because prices continue to drop for these types of products, companies who provide the innovations that will make us all more energy-efficient don’t receive the funding they need to stay afloat, much less make a profit.

It will be interesting to watch the global energy investment trends through this next year, especially as government campaigns ramp up toward the 2012 Presidential elections.

Do you think 2012 will see an increase, decrease or remain static in terms of energy investing?

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