UK plummeted to 13th in Clean Energy investment race

April 2nd, 2011 by The Pew Charitable Trusts

Clean energy investment in the United Kingdom dropped by 70 percent in 2010, and the nation’s position among G-20 leaders fell from fifth in 2009 to 13th, according to new research released today by The Pew Charitable Trusts. The UK’s dramatic drop in private investment was in stark contrast to global trends.

Worldwide, this sector’s investments grew by a robust 30 percent to a record $243 billion in 2010. China remains the global leader, attracting a record $54.4 billion in equity in 2010—a 39 percent increase. Germany ranked second, up from third, doubling financing to $41.2 billion. For the first time, India moved into the top 10, with $4 billion in investment, a 25 percent increase. While the United States witnessed a 51 percent increase in these investments to $34 billion, it slipped to third place and continues to lag on a number of metrics.

“With a new government in the United Kingdom, investors appear to have taken to the sidelines until there is more certainty in the marketplace,” said Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew’s Clean Energy Program. “Our research consistently demonstrates that strong policy attracts investments. Nations like China, Germany and India, which all saw an increase, were attractive to financers because they have national policies that create long-term certainty for investors.”

“Looking at global trends, the solar sector experienced the strongest growth among the various technologies, led by small-scale residential projects,” said Michael Liebreich, CEO of Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Declining prices and generous government support in key countries helped the solar sector achieve 40 percent of total clean energy investment in 2010. In the UK, activity stalled somewhat in 2010 due in no small part to policy uncertainty during a substantial part of the year.”

With underlying data compiled by Pew’s research partner Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race? 2010 Edition examines the key financial, investment and technological trends in relation to the clean energy economy of the world’s leading economies. Known as the Group of Twenty (G-20), these members account for 90 percent of global clean energy finance and investment.

Other key findings from the report include:

  • Worldwide clean energy investment and finance has grown 630 percent since 2004.
  • Regionally, Europe remained the leading recipient, attracting $94.4 billion, led by Germany ($41.2 billion) and Italy ($13.9 billion).
  • Italy ranked fourth, attracting $13.9 billion. It is the first country to achieve grid parity, or cost-competitiveness, for solar energy.
  • The Asia/Oceania region, led by China, continued its sharp rise, attracting $82.8 billion, a 33 percent increase over the previous year.
  • The Americas also saw investment grow 35 percent, but as a region it remains a distant third, attracting $65.8 billion.
  • Investments in small-scale, residential solar grew by 100 percent to $56.4 billion in the G-20. Germany accounts for nearly half the total, followed by Japan, France, Italy and the United States.
  • Installed generating capacity increased to 388 gigawatts from wind, small-hydro, biomass, solar, geothermal and marine, with China accounting for more than 25 percent of the global total.
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