‘Green’ energy spending on rise
Global investment in green energy surged ahead in 2007 and has continued to grow this year despite turmoil in financial markets, a report says. Spending on green power last year hit $148bn (£75bn), up 60% from 2006, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said.
Rising oil prices, concerns over energy security, climate change worries and growing government support were behind the rise, it said. Wind energy got the most investment but solar power grew fastest as a sector.
Just as thousands were drawn to California and the Klondike in the late 1800s, the green energy gold rush is attracting legions of modern day prospectors. However, higher crop prices in the US meant that the appetite to invest in ethanol and other biofuels fell by almost a third.
In its Global Trends in Sustainable Energy Investment 2008 report, UNEP forecasts that by 2012 about $450bn will be spent each year on green energy projects, climbing to more than $600bn from 2020. “Investment in the sustainable energy sectors must continue to grow strongly if targets for greenhouse gas reductions and renewables and efficiency increases are to be met,” it said.
The majority of investment in 2007 went to Europe, the report said, followed by the US – though about $26bn was put into projects in China, India and Brazil. Investment was “subdued” during the first few months of 2008, it added, with several developers of wind power technology selling up after “realising that with the tightening of credit markets, they could not finance themselves”, UNEP said.
But most areas had picked up during the second three month quarter of the year, the report added.