Utility solar leads in global clean tech investment

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An upsurge in investment in solar and wind projects in the second quarter of 2013 contributed to a 22% overall increase in global investment in clean energy, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Overall investment in clean energy worldwide stood at US$53.1 billion in the second quarter, up from $43.5 billion in quarter one.

BNEF said the largest category of investment between April and June 2013 was asset finance of utility-scale solar and wind projects. This reached US$31.9 billion, up 39% quarter on quarter, but down 21% year on year.

BNEF singled out deals such as MidAmerican Renewables’ US$2.5 billion financing of the Solar Star project in California, formerly known as Antelope Valley.

According to BNEF, investment in small-scale PV projects of less than 1MW continued to be another active area, accounting for $17 billion of outlays in the second quarter.

This was in line with Q1, but represented a 15% year-on-year decrease, largely because of reductions in the cost of PV panels, BNEF said.

BNEF said the second quarter rebound was driven by the US, where investment jumped 155% to reach $9.5 billion. China recorded a 63% increase in second quarter investment, while South Africa, where a national renewable energy programme is driving strong growth in solar and wind development, went from almost nothing in Q1 to US$2.8 billion in Q2.

But in Europe, where solar markets have been affected by falling subsidies and the EU-China PV trade dispute, saw investment fall by 44% compared to Q1, the continent’s lowest quarter total for six years.

Partly as a result of Europe’s downturn, global clean tech investment in the second quarter for 2013 was 16% below the figure for the same period last year.

Michael Liebreich, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said: “These figures are a mixture of sweet and sour. On the sour side, 2013 globally is still running below 2012, which was itself down on the 2011 investment record. And European investment is clearly being hit by cuts in support for renewable energy and by policy uncertainty, notably ahead of the German election in September.

“On the sweet side, the US is back in business following the hiatus that resulted from fears about the possible expiry of the Production Tax Credit for wind at the end of 2012. And the 50% rally in clean energy share prices since their lows last summer, with rises of 200% or more for Tesla Motors and a clutch of major wind and solar manufacturers, is rekindling – at least for the moment – the appetite of stock market investors for equity raisings.”

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