Global Clean Energy Investment Hits $27.3 Billion in First Quarter of 2010

An April 12 report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance noted that worldwide financial investment in clean energy reached $27.3 billion in the first quarter of 2010, up 31% from the first quarter of 2009, but down 13.6% from the fourth quarter.

The financial analyst’s quarterly figures cover asset financing of wind farms, solar parks, biofuel plants, and other projects, as well as public market, venture capital, and private equity financing for clean energy companies.

While China dominated the asset financing with investments of $6.5 billion, Bloomberg’s figures report a slight increase in asset financing in the United States, rising from $2.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2009 to $3.5 billion in the first quarter of 2010.

Global venture capital and private equity investment hit $2.9 billion in the first quarter, up from $1.7 billion in the previous quarter, but public market investment fell to $2 billion, down from $5.8 billion.

Among the leaders for the quarter are electric vehicles infrastructure company Better Place, which sold $350 million in preferred stock, and Clipper Windpower, which received a $202 million investment from United Technologies Corporation. Bloomberg expects clean energy investments to set a record in 2010, possibly reaching $200 billion.

In another study, the Clean Edge research firm tallied revenue for wind power, biofuels, and solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies in 2009, and found that they grew 15.8% to $144.5 billion worldwide.

The report’s authors noted that this was somewhat surprising, given the sour economy. Clean Edge highlighted the robust activity for installing new wind farms, which attracted $63.5 billion, up from $51.4 billion in 2008. The report also noted that sales of biofuels reached $44.9 billion last year.

Wind power (new installation capital costs) is projected to expand from $63.5 billion in 2009 to $114.5 billion in 2019. Last year’s global wind energy installations reached a record 37,500 MW. China, the global leader in new installations for the first time, accounted for more than a third of new installations, or 13,000 MW.

Solar power photovoltaics (including modules, system components, and installation) will grow from a $36.1 billion industry in 2009 to $116.5 billion by 2019. New installations reached just more than 7 GW worldwide in 2009, a sevenfold increase from five years earlier, when the solar PV market reached the gigawatt milestone for the first time.

But because of rapidly declining solar PV prices, industry revenue between 2008 and 2009 was down about 6 percent – from a revised $38.5 billion in 2008 – as solar prices dropped from an average $7 peak watt installed in 2008 to $5.12 peak watt installed last year.

The only decline was in the PV industry, which Clean Edge said dropped 6% to $36.1 billion, in part because the cost of solar modules declined. Clean Edge issued its initial report in March, but updated it in late April to include new solar results from Germany, which brought the total PV capacity installed in 2009 to more than 7 gigawatts.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance has also been updating its figures, increasing the investment totals for 2008 and 2009. The company now reports clean energy investments of $162 billion in 2009, up from the previously stated $145 billion, while the 2008 figure increased from $155 billion to $173 billion.