A report from the United Nations has revealed that despite the credit crunch, global investment in wind and solar power is on the rise. Over $140 billion out of $250 billion was utilised for renewable electricity production in 2008.
Wind attracted the highest new worldwide investment, $51.8 billion but represented only 1% annual growth while solar, at $33.5 billion, was up by nearly 50% year on year. In total, over $155 billion was spent during 2008 in clean energy companies and projects worldwide even though green firms saw share prices slump over 60%.
According to the latest annual global trends in sustainable energy investment report, 2009 has started ominously with investment only $13.3 billion (down 53% in the first quarter). This figure lags behind the UN’s call for $750 billion worldwide to be spent between 2009–11 to meet climate change goals.
Europe continues to be the centre for green power investment with $50 billion being pumped into projects here (up 2% on last year), while the figure for North America was $30 billion (down 8%). Although overall spending in the west dropped by 2%, there was a 27% rise to $36.6 billion in developing countries. China put $15.6 billion into cleaner energy and more than doubled its installed wind turbine capacity to 11GW. India’s green spending also rose to $4.1 billion in 2008 (up 12%).
Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN’s Environment Programme, summed up the situation like this: “Without doubt the economic crisis has taken its toll on investments in clean energy when set against the record-breaking growth of recent years. However there were some bright spots in 2008 especially in developing economies. China became the world’s second largest wind market in terms of new capacity and the world’s biggest photovoltaic manufacturer.”