Research company Bloomberg New Energy Finance has published figures demonstrating China’s dominance in both solar and wind sectors, each securing hundreds of millions in dollars in financing. In the second quarter of 2012, China saw a surge in investment to US$18.3bn, up 92% from the previous quarter. The largest Chinese solar project financed was the Shanlu & Shengyu Bayannur Wuyuan PV plant, at US$316m.
Europe and the US enjoyed solid but less spectacular gains in investment in Q2, of 11% and 18% over Q1, to reach US$20bn and US$10.2bn respectively. Overall, solar accounted for US$33.6bn of investment in Q2, up 19% on Q1.
Michael Liebreich, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said: “China has recently quadrupled its domestic goals for solar installations. And it has been by far the biggest market for wind turbines for several years. These figures underline the pivotal role China is playing in the clean energy sector. Its torrent of supply-side investment was one of the main reasons why renewable energy costs have been plummeting; we are now seeing China creating enough demand to start mopping up some of the resulting over-capacity.”
Bloomberg’s research confirms that the clean energy sector has shown resilience in the face of global economic ills, solar trade wars and policy uncertainty in the second quarter of 2012, with new investment totalling US$59.6bn. This was up 24% on Q1, but still 18% below the near-record quarterly figure of US$72.5bn in Q2 last year.
There is a clear split between investment in clean energy technology and equipment providers – which remained depressed in Q2 in the face of world economic and stock market troubles – and generating asset investment, which Bloomberg states have held up well.
The continuing challenge for companies hoping to raise equity finance for expansion was highlighted yet again by a fresh 15% fall in the WilderHill New Energy Global Innovation Index, or NEX, which tracks 96 clean energy stocks worldwide. At the end of Q2, the NEX stood at 115.25, 75% below its record high posted in November 2007, and just 15% ahead of its indexing start-point in 2003.
The report indicates that public market investment in clean energy stood at just US$1.2bn in Q2. This was nearly double the rock-bottom first quarter figure, but 75% below that for the second quarter of 2011. Venture capital and private equity investment was also subdued, at US$1.5bn in Q2 this year, down 28% from Q1 and 39% from the second quarter of 2011.
For the first time Bloomberg’s report includes estimated quarterly figures for small-scale projects of less than 1MW. Projects were worth approximately US$21.5bn in Q2 this year, 13% more than in the same quarter last year.
Liebreich said: “Small-scale projects are becoming an increasingly important part of the world’s energy mix, particularly following the 75% drop in the cost of PV modules over the past three years. Germany and Italy remain the largest markets, but small-scale PV is now broadening its geographic base, with installations in the US, Japan and China all growing strongly. We see further expansion across the sun-belt as costs continue to come down.”