BNEF: China dominated US$55 billion of global clean energy investment in Q3

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Driven to a greater extent by a “solar boom,” China contributed US$19.9 billion to a global total of US$55 billion invested in clean energy in the third quarter of this year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

BNEF issued figures today for worldwide clean energy investment, based on tracking of data transactions and projects. The firm claims to have found that in the July to September period of this year, clean energy investment rose by 12% over the third quarter of 2013. In that period, US$48.9 billion was invested.

In the first three quarters of the year, BNEF says, a total of US$175.1 billion has been invested. BNEF believes this will contribute to a “bounce-back” this year in overall investment levels after two years of seeing them fall. The figures did show however, that the third quarter of 2014 was slightly weaker than the second, which BNEF qualified by explaining that this is “generally” the case. The second quarter saw US$65.2 billion invested this year.

China’s input was the single biggest contributor to worldwide investments, constituting over a third of the total. Solar investment in China in the third quarter, from July to September was US$12.2 billion, which represented a huge 63% year-on-year jump from the equivalent period of last year, when the figure stood at US$7.5 billion.

BNEF cited the completion of a number of large-scale grid-connected PV projects in China as a strong contributing factor in this success. BNEF predicts that China will install between 13GW and 14GW this year, broadly in line with the forecasts of other analysts including Deutsche Bank’s Vishal Shah. Shah predicted between 13GW and 15GW would be installed in the Asian country this year, while I.H.S Research has called the figure at 13GW. China’s national deployment target for PV this year is 13GW, split between distributed generation and large-scale projects.

Finlay Colville of NPD Solarbuzz, in discussion with PV Tech senior news editor Mark Osbourne for a recent in-depth look at the global market, stressed the importance of political will in driving deployment in China. Looking ahead to discussions on which end-market would be the biggest in 2016, Colville said China was more capable of scaling up to such a challenge than any other country.

“…if Beijing wishes to have the largest PV end-market in 2016, then have the largest end-market it will. China has the bandwidth to create this outcome, more than any other country.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Japan also made a strong showing, hitting US$8.6 billion in the quarter, again dominated by solar, BNEF said. A number of examples of huge asset investment deals driving the global market quoted by BNEF include over a billion dollars into a single 231MW project in Japan. A recent report by NPD Solarbuzz had said the Asia-Pacific region could install 17GW in total this year. Another Solarbuzz analyst, Ray Lian, predicted China and Japan would dominate demand, adding about half of the world’s new PV capacity this year.

Europe’s clean energy investment levels, in contrast, showed “the continuing troubles of the sector”, BNEF said. In Italy, the solar sector’s woes with retroactive subsidy cuts impacted on the country’s investment levels, while policy uncertainty in the UK had a similar effect. Europe’s overall investment appears to have fallen in the opposite trajectory to China’s corresponding rise – while China’s third quarter figures went from US$7.5 billion in Q3 2013 to US$12.2 billion in Q3 2014, Europe’s Q3 2013 figure of US$12.1 billion fell to US$8.8 billion for the same period of this year.

The US meanwhile saw a modest rise, from US$5.7 billion in 2013’s third quarter to US$7.3 billion in this year’s. BNEF also highlighted investment performances as notable in India (US$2 billion) and Canada (US$1.9 billion). PV Tech reported this week that the US and India could be on the brink of a deal to invest US$1 billion in renewable energy.

BNEF pointed out that figures for previous years had had to be adjusted to include newly uncovered information, but claimed historical trends were not affected.

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