Sustainable spending

Over half the $250bn invested in new power generating capacity worldwide in 2008 was spent on renewable energy sources.

Over half the $250bn (£154bn) invested in new power generating capacity worldwide in 2008 was spent on renewable energy sources, according to a new United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report.

The Global Trends in Sustainable Energy Investment 2009 report said that of the $155bn invested in clean energy, more than two-thirds went to renewable energy projects from geothermal and wind to solar and biofuels, and $13.5bn on companies ramping up new technology development.

The study, prepared by research firm New Energy Finance, reported that last year’s investment in clean energy quadrupled the amount in 2004, and topped the record-breaking year of 2007 by five per cent, although outlay was down 17 per cent in the second half of 2008 on the first half, a trend continuing in 2009.

‘Without doubt the economic crisis has taken its toll on investments in clean energy when set against the record-breaking growth of recent years,’ said UNEP executive director Achim Steiner.

As investment in low-carbon energy fell in the US by two per cent and growth slowed in Europe; the bright spots in 2008 came mostly from developing economies, added Steiner.

‘China became the world’s second largest wind market in terms of new capacity and the world’s biggest photovoltaic manufacturer, and a rise in geothermal energy may be getting underway in countries from Australia to Japan and Kenya,’ he said.

At almost $52bn, wind energy companies and projects attracted the highest amount of new investment, and solar power made the largest gains with $33.5bn – a 49 per cent growth – while biofuel investment dropped by nine per cent to $16.9bn.