China is leading the world in renewable energy investment, with $103 billion, followed by the US and Japan – leading to a 17 per cent increase globally in 2014. The movement put an end to a two-year market decline, according to United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP’s) 9th annual Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investments report.
As in previous years, the 2014 market was dominated by record investments in solar and wind, which accounted for 92 per cent of the overall spend.
For the year, investment in solar jumped 25 per cent to $149.6 billion – the second highest figure for solar ever posted – while wind investment increased 11 per cent to a record $99.5 billion.
“In China, utility-scale projects of more than 1MW made up about three-quarters of the solar investment of $40 billion, which was a 45 per cent increase on the previous year,” the report said.
“In Japan, on the other hand, investment was dominated by small scale projects of less than a megawatt, which accounted for 81 per cent of a total solar investment of $34.8 billion, a 13 per cent increase on 2013.”
In 2014, some 49GW of wind capacity and 46GW of solar PV capacity were added worldwide, both records.
Movement in the Australian renewable sector, however, has plummeted from $2.1 billion to just $330 million. It had seen Australia fall off the list of the top 10 countries for renewable energy investment, alongside Italy, dragged down by retroactive subsidy changes, as reported by Reneweconomy.
Australia’s policy impasse on renewable energy is to blame for the fall in ranks, with Spanish lender Banco Santander – one of the world’s largest renewable investors – among the most recent investors to pull out of the country. Santander has pulled out of the Taralga wind farm and will reportedly close its Australian office.
Together, wind, solar, biomass and waste-to-power, geothermal, small hydro and marine power are estimated to have generated 9.1 per cent of the worlds electricity in 2014, compared to 8.5 per cent in 2013.
The UN report was seized upon by the Climate Council, with spokesman Andrew Stock pointing out while Australia’s largest trading partners were leveraging opportunities generated by the global renewable energy boom, Australia was losing out due to its uncertain policy and faced increasing sovereign risk.
Beyond China, Brazil ($7.6 billion), India ($7.4 billion) and South Africa ($5.5 billion) all ranked in the top 10 investing countries, while more than $1 billion was invested in Indonesia, Chile, Mexico, Kenya and Turkey.