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Falling cost of solar to blame for European renewables investment drop



Global investment in renewable energy fell for the second year in a row in 2013, with green investment in Europe down by 41%, new figures have revealed.

As international financial leaders met at a UN summit to be told of the critical need for increasing clean energy investment on Wednesday, statistics released by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) showed that the trend is heading in the opposite direction.

Investment was down to $254 billion, falling from $98 billion to $58 billion in Europe. In the UK alone, investment fell from $14.3 billion (£8.8bn) to $13.1 billion  (£8bn).

However, BNEF’s founder Michael Liebreich said, “The top line figures don’t tell the whole story.

“Investment in Europe crashed, in large part because of the falling cost of solar installations, whose volume worldwide actually grew by around 20% to a new record”, he explained.  

The solar sector saw the most pronounced decline, falling to $114.7 billion from $142.9 billion. Wind saw a small decline to $80.3 billion (£49.2bn) from $80.9 billion (£49.5bn), while biomass investment dropped to $8 billion (£4.9bn) from $13.8 billion (£8.5bn). Biofuels, meanwhile, fell from $6.6 billion (£4bn) to $4.9 billion (£3bn).

Energy smart technologies, such as electric vehicles and energy efficiency projects, actually saw an increase to $34.6 billion (£21.2bn) from $32.7 billion (£20bn).

The new figures demonstrate the need for financial institutions to step forward and support renewable energy.

At the 2014 Investor Summit on Climate Risk in New York, which was organised by sustainable investment coalition Ceres, the UN’s climate chief Christiana Figueres urged investors to back low-carbon technologies in order to avoid losing money over the long-term, because of economic risks posed by climate change.

The pensions, life insurances and nest eggs of billions of ordinary people depend on the long-term security and stability of institutional investment funds. Climate change increasingly poses one of the biggest long-term threats to those investments and the wealth of the global economy”, Figueres told delegates.

In an interview with the Guardian on Tuesday, she said said that global investment in renewables and energy efficiency must rise from the average of $300 billion (£184bn) a year to $1 trillion (£612bn) if runaway global warming is to be avoided.

Further reading:

Climate change a long-term threat to investment, UN tells investors

CDP: investors urge companies to improve sustainability

UN climate chief: clean energy needs investment worth $1tn a year

Biggest global investors call for urgent action on climate change

Report says investing in fossil fuels is a ‘very risky decision’