Investment in renewable energy grew 17 percent in 2014 to $270 billion, just 3 percent below the all-time record of nearly $279 billion in 2011, according to a new report from the United Nations Environment Program and Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
The spending last year yielded 103 gigawatts of capacity, compared to about 80 gigawatts in 2011, although 2011's lesser amount was procured for $9 billion more than what the larger amount cost in 2014.
Solar growth has been huge, but it was actually wind that had a record year. Solar saw more absolute dollars in 2014, about $150 billion compared to $100 billion for wind. But wind investment set a new record and was up 11 percent over 2013. The growth in wind was mostly in the European offshore market, with various multi-billion-dollar deals. Financing for offshore wind was up 148 percent globally on the previous year.
China continues to drive the growth in solar, with $40 billion in 2014, but Japan was not far behind at $35 billion. Another recent study from the International Energy Agency found that the total installed global capacity of solar PV is 10 times today compared to what it was in 2008.
China’s continued dominance in renewable investing in recent years has helped to shrink the gap between developing and developed nations in terms of renewable investment, with just an $8 billion difference in 2014. There's a strong possibility that developing nations could be the leader this year.
“However, the advance of the developing nations in renewable energy has not been only about China,” the report authors wrote, noting that Brazil, India and South Africa were all in the top 10 investing countries. Mexico, Chile, Indonesia, Kenya and Turkey all surpassed the $1 billion mark, with many more expected to join that club in 2015.