Global investment in wind energy and solar power grew to record $263 billion in 2011

China received $45.5 billion worth of clean energy investments in 2011, losing its worldwide lead to the United States for the first time since 2009, according to new research released by The Pew Charitable Trusts. Still, China continues to be a hub of clean energy activity – leading the world in attracting wind energy investment and in growing its clean energy generating capacity with 133 gigawatts (GW) or 26 percent of the worldwide total. China is making rapid progress in deployment of clean energy generating capacity as it seeks to meet the world’s most ambitious clean energy targets, which call for installation of 160 GW of wind farm and 50 GW of solar energy by 2020.

Globally, clean energy private finance and investment grew to a record $263 billion in 2011, a 6.5 percent increase over the previous year. The United States received $48 billion last year, a 44 percent increase over 2010. Germany received $30.6 billion ranking third among G-20 nations.

"While China’s growth may have been flat in 2011, it remains a formidable contender in the global clean energy race – leading the world in production of wind turbines and solar modules," said Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew’s Clean Energy Program. "Further, China has maintained strong, national clean energy goals, ensuring strong investment levels for the foreseeable future. The country has deployed an impressive amount of clean generating capacity."

Wind energy investments in China were more than three times that of the next closest G-20 nation at $29 billion. China now has more than 64 GW of installed wind energy capacity, although a quarter or more of this capacity may not be operational or connected to the grid.

Investments in solar energy increased to $11.3 billion and 2.3 GW of capacity was installed in 2011, most of it utility-scale projects.

"The clean energy sector received its trillionth dollar of private investment just before the end of 2011, demonstrating significant growth over the past eight years," said Michael Liebreich, CEO of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Pew’s research partner. "Solar installations drove most of the activity last year as the falling price of photovoltaic modules, now 75 percent lower than three years ago, more than compensated for weakening clean energy support mechanisms in a number of parts of the world."

With underlying data compiled by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race? 2011 Edition examines how nations are faring in the stiff competition for private investment among the world’s leading economies. Investments in the G-20 countries accounted for more than 95 percent of the global total. Amounts are listed in U.S. dollars.