Renewable energy investments increased by 16% in 2014, reaching $310 billion (£205bn), the first growth registered since 2011, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).
Whilst renewable energy investments have failed to grow in the previous three years, this has been linked to falling costs, rather than a lack of demand. The 2014 figure is more than five times the figure of $60.2 billion (£39bn) that was recorded just a decade ago, demonstrating the growth and momentum in the sector, but is still 2% below the record $317.5 billion (£210bn) reached in 2011.
Solar made up almost half of total clean energy investment, the highest share ever, and a considerable increase on the 25% registered in 2013. Investment in wind rose 11% to a record $99.5 billion (£65bn), whilst the third largest sector was energy smart technologies, including smart grid, power storage, efficiency and electrified transport, with $37.1 billion (£24.5bn) in investment.
The UK saw its overall investment in clean energy reach $15.2 billion (£10bn) a 3% increase on the previous year.
Whilst some predicted that falling oil prices would mean less investment for renewables, this doesn’t appear to have been the case for 2014, although it could impact investment this year.
Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board for BNEF, said, “Healthy investment in clean energy may surprise some commentators, who have been predicting trouble for renewables as a result of the oil price collapse.
“Our answer is that 2014 was too early to see any noticeable effect on investment. The impact of cheaper crude will be felt much more in road transport than in electricity generation.”
BNEF also warned that the renewables industry might find it hard to replicate 2014’s success this year. Last year the sector benefitted from China expanding its commitment to renewable by 32% and a record $19.4 billion (£12.8bn) being committed to offshore wind projects that were years in the making. The researcher also notes that money flowed into electric cars, especially for Telsa Motors, just before falling oil prices reduced forecasts for this area.
Photo: BlackRockSolar via Flickr