Global clean energy investments grew 17 per cent in 2014 and reached $270bn

Global clean energy investments grew 17 per cent in 2014 and reached $270bn, according to new research from the United Nations.


The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said in their new Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investments report that the findings come after two years of declines.

A 148 per cent increase in offshore wind energy investments and major expansion of solar capacity in China and Japan drove an improvement on the $232bn spent in 2013.

Despite the challenge of low crude oil prices, the report confirms the increase in investment over 2014 that was noted by reports from Bloomberg New Energy Finance and Clean Energy Pipeline earlier in the year.

The report also shows that the 2014 total of $270bn took global clean energy investment since 2004 past the $2tr mark to an 11-year total of $2.02tr.

Around 103GW of global renewable energy capacity was added over 2014, making it the best year ever for newly installed capacity and marks a significant increase on the 86GW added in 2013 and the 89GW built in 2012.

Wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, small hydro, and marine power made up 9.1 per cent of global electricity generation in 2014, a boost from 8.5 per cent the previous year.

UNEP said the decline in the costs of wind and solar power meant that more capacity was installed per dollar spent than ever before – some 49GW of wind capacity and 46GW of solar PV capacity were added worldwide.

Achim Steiner (pictured), UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNEP, said: “Once again in 2014, renewables made up nearly half of the net power capacity added worldwide. These climate-friendly energy technologies are now an indispensable component of the global energy mix and their importance will only increase as markets mature, technology prices continue to fall and the need to rein in carbon emissions becomes ever more urgent.”

China was again the biggest investmentor in clean energy, spending a record $83.3bn – a near 40 per cent increase on 2013.

Investment in the US increased nearly seven per cent to $38.3bn, slightly down on its 2011 record, but still enough for second worldwide.

Japan was the third biggest investor and reached an all time annual investment high of $35.7bn, a 10 per cent increase on 2013.

Investment in developing countries is up 36 per cent to $131.3bn – representing nearly half of the global total and the closest ever to developed nations.

Chile, Mexico, Kenya, South Africa and Turkey all reached $1bn, while Jordan, Uruguay, Panama, the Philippines and Myanmar invested between $500m and $1bn.

UNEP’s report found that solar and wind accounted for 92 per cent of overall investments in renewable power and fuels.

A 25 per cent jump in investment took the solar sector to just under $150bn, the second highest figure ever.

Wind power investment increased 11 per cent to a record $99.5bn.

China and Japan accounted for $74.9bn of solar investments in 2014, about half the world’s total.

Offshore wind energy attracted a record $18.6bn of investment – 45 per cent higher than its previous highest year, 2010.

Growth in many other renewable energy technologies, however, has stalled according to the report.

Biofuels dropped eight per cent to $5.1bn, biomass and waste-to-energy fell 10 per cent to $8.4bn and small hydro decreased 17 per cent to $4.5bn.