After a sharp falloff in 2010, investments in the UK’s clean energy sector rebounded in 2011 to $9.4 billion – a 35 percent increase and the seventh highest among G-20 nations, according to new research by The Pew Charitable Trusts. The growth was driven in part by a 10-fold increase in solar energy investments, which rose to $4.8 billion, financing the installation of more than 300 megawatts (MW) of power in 2011. Sustained interest in development of offshore wind turbines also helped to spur $2.3 billion worth of investment and 900 MW of capacity in the wind sector. To date, the UK has installed 6.4 GW of wind capacity.
“While solar investment saw the most significant growth in the UK, offshore wind is poised for significant future investments and capacity additions,” says Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew’s Clean Energy Program. “In part, investment growth in the United Kingdom can be attributed to investors initiating new projects before policy incentives are curtailed. To maintain growth, the UK must provide consistent, long-term market signals that provide certainty to investors.”
Globally, investment grew to a record $263 billion in 2011, a 6.5 percent increase over the previous year. The United States reclaimed the top spot among all G-20 nations and attracted $48 billion. However, with $45.5 billion in private investments, China continued to be a hub of clean energy activity – leading the world in wind energy investment and deployment, as well as wind and solar manufacturing. Germany received $30.6 billion, ranking third among G-20 nations. The combination of falling prices and growing investments accelerated installation of clean energy generating capacity by a record 83.5 GW in 2011 bringing the total to 565 GW globally. This represents nearly 50 percent more than installed nuclear power capacity worldwide by the end of the year.
“The clean energy sector received its trillionth dollar of private investment just before the end of 2011, demonstrating significant growth over the past eight years,” points out Michael Liebreich, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Pew’s research partner. “Solar installations drove most of the activity last year as the falling price of photovoltaic modules, now 75 percent lower than three years ago, more than compensated for weakening clean energy support mechanisms in a number of parts of the world.”