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Global Investment in Alternative Energy Tops $243 Billion

According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, new global investment in clean energy reached $243 billion in 2010, up from $186.5 billion in 2009. Last year’s investment figures double those from 2006. The main factors in this growth were the huge Chinese market, the expansion of offshore wind, European solar markets and global R&D.

“This is a spectacular result, beating previous record investment levels by a clear margin of more than $50 billion,” said BNEF founder and CEO Michael Liebriech. “It flies in the face of skepticism about the clean energy sector among public market investors.”

Here are some highlights from the annual renewable energy report:

  • Investment in small-scale, distributed generation projects surged by 91% last year to $59.6 billion, with the dominant element rooftop and other small-scale solar projects, notably in Germany but also in the US, the Czech Republic, Italy and elsewhere.
  • Investment in China was up 30% to $51.1billion in 2010, by far the largest figure for any country. In 2009 Asia and Oceania overtook the Americas, and in 2010 it narrowed the gap further on Europe, Middle East and Africa as the leading region of the world for clean energy investment.
  • Offshore wind finance had another good year in 2010, led by a $1.7 billion package to fund the next, 295MW phases of the Thornton Bank offshore wind farm off the coast of Belgium, and a $1 billion deal to finance the Borkum West II project in German waters.
  • Research and development spending on clean energy technologies by companies and governments grew to a record level in 2010, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance data. Within this, the main constituent was government R&D, which reached $21 billion, up from $15.8 billion in 2009, while corporate R&D recovered from 2009′s recession-hit figure of $12.8bn, to reach $14.4 billion, giving a total for global clean energy R&D of $35.5 billion.
  • Venture capital and private equity investment had a strong year, up 28% from the 2009 total to reach $8.8 billion, though failing to match 2008′s record figure of $11.8 billion. Among the private equity deals of 2010 were a $400 million financing for US wind project developer Pattern Energy Group, and $35 million for Better Place, the US-based electric vehicle charging network specialist.

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