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Investing in a renewable future

With an economy struggling out of recession, and uncertainty over energy policy, securing investment in renewables has never been more important to the future of the industry. PES takes a look at current state of energy investment, and how wind is leading the race to secure funding for new projects.

Renewable energies are expanding both in terms of investment, projects and geographical spread. In doing so, they are making an increasing contribution to combating climate change, countering energy poverty and energy insecurity, stimulating green jobs and meeting the Millennium Development Goals.

In investment among the developed economies, the US was a big winner, with financial new investment in renewables jumping from just under $16 billion to just over $25billion. As in China, the big feature was asset financing of wind, which totalled $14.9 billion, as debt market conditions stabilised after the financial crisis.

Renewable energy is still regarded as a modest-sized niche by some investors, media commentators and politicians. That view has it that the “serious” investment activity still goes on in conventional energy sectors such as oil and gas, coal and – prior to the Fukushima crisis in March 2011 – nuclear, and that renewables are an entertaining, albeit expensive, sideshow.

This perception has been out-of-date for many years, and never more so than in 2010. Overall new investment in renewable energy of $211 billion was up 32 per cent on 2009 levels, and nearly seven times the figure for 2004, just six years earlier. There is also burgeoning investment in the parallel area of energysmart technologies – including smart grid, electric vehicles and energy efficiency devices and systems.


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