Renewable Energy Investment Enjoys Record Year Although Growth is Slowing Down


Global renewable energy investment rose to a new high in 2011, despite poor economic conditions caused by the widespread recession. However, renewable energy investment analysts have noted that the rate of growth has actually showed signs of slowing down. Instead of renewable energy investment reaching a plateau, the rate of investment would have to continue to elevate so that world economies could transform into green economies and lower their carbon footprint.

Renewable Energy Investment over Past Decade

Renewable energy investment in 2011 climbed to $257 billion, which was an increase of 17% compared to the previous year. This increase is substantial and is six times higher than total renewable energy investment in 2004, and double that of 2007, the year before the global financial crisis. Although a record increase is noted, compared to the previous year, the rate of renewable energy investment has slowed down. Renewable energy investment increased by 37% the previous year. These figures are according to a report by the United Nations Environment Programme and the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21).

Renewable Energy Investment Now and Future

Although total renewable energy investment around the world is increasing, more interest and contribution is needed in order to combat climate change and to convert high carbon emission countries to low carbon and sustainable energy economies. Renewable energy investment in China and the US came out tops for total money invested. However, the renewable energy investment boom of $51 billion may be temporary, as investors may be taking advantage of short term incentive schemes before they expire. This indicates that governments need to put more incentive schemes in place to ensure that renewable energy investment by country does not slow down.

Targets of Renewable Energy Investment

In the last decade, wind power has traditionally been the largest single beneficiary for renewable energy investment funds, but this year it was surpassed by solar power. This was largely fuelled by a drop in the component prices for solar energy. Overall, solar technology received twice the amount of renewable energy investment than wind. Solar power technology investment increased by 52% ($147 billion), with large contributions coming from rooftop photovoltaic (PV) installations from Germany and Italy. Smaller PV projects in countries such as China and the UK also contributed to the boom, as well as solar thermal (CSP) projects in the US and Spain. The full report, titled Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2012, used data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

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