China dominates global renewable projects in 2010

Solar shows impressive scale
July 09, 2011
China the biggest market for renewable energy investment in 2010

According to the latest news released by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), China along with a number of developing countries are now the biggest investors in large-scale renewables while Germany surges ahead on rooftop solar.

From research carried out for UNEP by the London-based Bloomberg New Energy Finance 'The Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2011' report sees a positive trend in government research and development in renewables spotlighted-up over 120 per cent to well over USD5 billion.

Wind farms in China and small-scale solar panels on rooftops in Europe were largely responsible for last year's 32 percent rise in green energy investments worldwide, according to the report.

Last year, investors pumped a record USD211 billion into renewables -- about one-third more than the USD160 billion invested in 2009, and a 540 percent rise since 2004. For the first time, developing economies overtook developed ones in terms of "financial new investment,"spending on utility-scale renewable energy projects and provision of equity capital for renewable energy companies.

On this measure, USD72 billion was invested in developing countries vs. USD70 billion in developed economies, which contrasts with 2004, when financial new investments in developing countries were about one quarter of those in developed countries. China, with USD48.9 billion in financial new investment in renewables (up 28 percent), was the world leader in 2010. However, other parts of the emerging world also showed strong growth:

  • South and Central America: up 39 percent to USD13.1 billion;
  • Middle East and Africa: up 104 percent to USD5 billion;
  • India: up 25 percent to USD3.8 billion, and
  • Asian developing countries excluding China and India: up 31 percent to USD4 billion.

Government backing surges

Another positive development, highlighted in the report with implications for long-term clean energy developments, was that government research and development has climbed over 120 per cent to well over USD5 billion.

Achim Steiner, Executive Director and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations said: "The continuing growth in this core segment of the Green Economy is not happening by chance. The combination of government target-setting, policy support and stimulus funds is underpinning the renewable industry's rise and bringing the much needed transformation of our global energy system within reach.''

"The UN climate convention meeting in Durban later in the year, followed by the Rio+20 summit in Brazil in 2012, offer key opportunities to accelerate and scale-up this positive transition to a low carbon, resource efficient Green Economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication," he added.

"The finance industry is still recovering from the financial crisis," adds Udo Steffens, President of the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management. "The fact that the industry remains heavily committed to renewables demonstrates its strong belief in the prospects of sustainable energy investments. The investment activity in the developing world is not only leading to innovations in renewable energy technologies. Further more, it will open up new markets as first mover investors are facilitating a range of new business models and support entrepreneurship in the developing world", he explains.