Data shows fall in UK’s renewable-energy investment

UK investment in renewable energy plummeted last year while other nations saw big increases, new data shows.

A drop of 70 per cent in private investments saw Britain slip down the league of countries developing green energy technology from third to 13th place, according to a report from the US Pew Environment Group.

The report blamed investor uncertainty in the face of a new government, despite David Cameron’s promise to make the coalition the ‘greenest government ever’.

Investors in the UK put $3.3bn (£2.1bn) into green energy projects in 2010, compared with $11bn (£6.9bn) the previous year, according to the report, which was compiled with data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

This came in sharp contrast to the 30 per cent global growth in the sector that included rises from almost every other G20 nation.

Chinese investors put the most money into clean energy ($54.4bn) followed by Germany ($41.2bn) and the US ($34bn).

But the UK was also behind Brazil ($7.6bn) and India ($4bn), and only one place ahead of Mexico ($2.3bn).

The news will likely disappoint the Department of Energy and Climate Change, which yesterday touted the UK’s credentials as a green economy and investment destination as part of the first green trade mission to the US.

‘With a new government in the UK, investors appear to have taken to the sidelines until there is more certainty in the marketplace,’ said Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew’s Clean Energy Program.

‘Our research consistently demonstrates that strong policy attracts investments. Nations such as China, Germany and India, which all saw an increase, were attractive to financiers because they have national policies that create long-term certainty for investors.’

More than 50 per cent of UK investments were directed at wind energy and a sharp decline in the offshore sector helped pull the total figure down.

Michael Liebreich, chief executive officer of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said: ‘Looking at global trends, the solar sector experienced the strongest growth among the various technologies, led by small-scale residential projects.’

‘Declining prices and generous government support in key countries helped the solar sector achieve 40 per cent of total clean-energy investment in 2010.

‘In the UK, activity stalled somewhat in 2010 due in no small part to policy uncertainty during a substantial part of the year,’ Liebreich added.