TODAY’S STUDY: THE MONEY IN NEW ENERGY
2013 Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race?
April 3, 2014 (Pew Charitable Trusts)
For the past five years, Pew has tracked investment and finance trends in the world’s leading economies. Over that period, the clean energy industry has been buffeted by a global recession, broad changes in energy markets, and uncertainty surrounding international policies on clean energy and climate change. Despite these challenges, the clean energy sector is now an annual $250 billion component of the world economy.1
Although global clean energy investment in renewable sources, biofuels, smart energy, and energy storage fell 11 percent in 2013, to $254 billion, a number of developments indicate a promising future for clean energy. First, the prices of leading technologies such as wind and solar have dropped steadily for decades; they are increasingly competitive with century-old and more financially volatile conventional power sources. Second, clean energy manufacturers are moving forward and have effectively weathered withering competitive pressures, consolidations, and policy changes. Investor confidence about the long-term future of renewable energy was reinforced in clean energy stock indexes in 2013, which rose sharply over the year. Third, markets in fast-growing, developing countries are prospering; these economies see distributed generation as an opportunity to avoid investments in costly transmission systems, comparable to the deployment of cellphones instead of costly landline infrastructure. Even in the contracting markets of Europe and the Americas, which have affected the overall industry, policymakers are recalibrating rather than abandoning clean energy policies.
Worldwide investment dips for 2nd straight year
Over the past two years, clean energy investment has declined 20 percent from a 2011 record of $318 billion. Although investment in non-G-20 markets grew by 15 percent, with promising sectors emerging in such places as Chile and Uruguay, investment in the larger and more established markets of G-20 countries2 declined by 16 percent. Only three G-20 countries—Japan, Canada, and the United Kingdom—had increased levels in clean energy investment in 2013.
Asian investment grows steadily, Europe slides sharply
Clean energy investment in the European region, which is comprised of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, slid sharply for the second year in a row. It fell 42 percent, to $55 billion, less than half the region’s 2011 record of $115 billion. Investment levels declined sharply in once-vibrant markets, with levels in Germany down 55 percent and Italy 75 percent. In contrast, the Asia and Oceania region continued to grow steadily in 2013, with levels increasing 10 percent, to $102 billion. China continued to be the leading regional and global market, attracting $54.2 billion in 2013. Japan experienced the fastest investment growth in the world, increasing 80 percent, to almost $29 billion.
Investment levels decreased in the Americas for the second year in a row to $52 billion, 8 percent lower than in 2012. Most notably, the largest markets in North and South America—the United States and Brazil—were down by 9 and 55 percent, respectively. For the first time, clean energy investment in Brazil was less than the combined total for the rest of Latin America. Canada was the second-fastest growing market in the G-20, increasing 45 percent, to $6.5 billion.
Wind investment holds steady as solar slips
Wind sector investments held relatively steady in 2013, falling 1 percent, to $73.5 billion, and accounted for 39 percent of the G-20 total. Financing dropped significantly in Turkey and Brazil, but those losses were offset by gains in Canada and the United Kingdom. China continued to attract the largest share of wind energy investment, accounting for 38 percent of the global total.
For the fourth year in a row, solar energy technologies garnered the largest share of G-20 clean energy investment—52 percent of the total. Nonetheless, investment in solar technologies fell by 23 percent in 2013, to $97.6 billion. Steep drops in Germany and Italy were among the reasons that collective investment in the solar sector fell below the $100 billion mark for the first time in seven years.
Energy efficient/low-carbon technologies, which include smart meters and energy storage devices, constituted the only clean energy sector with rising investment levels, growing 15 percent to $3.9 billion. G-20 investment in biofuels sank by 41 percent, to just under $3 billion. Other renewable energy technologies, including geothermal, biomass, and waste-to-energy, dropped by 31 percent, to $10.7 billion.
Asset financing declines, but clean energy stocks soar
Investment in small-distributed capacity, which is residential-scale solar projects of less than 1 megawatt, declined 29 percent in 2013, as did financing for large-scale assets. Together, these two classes account for more than 80 percent of clean energy investment. Asset financing decreased 14 percent in 2013, to $123.7 billion. China maintained its wide lead in asset financing for large projects, attracting $53.3 billion—more than 40 percent of the total.
In line with falling solar investments overall, residential and small commercial solar capacity investments fell to $52.5 billion, the lowest level recorded in the past four years. Japan garnered 44 percent, or $23 billion of small-distributed capacity investments.
Venture capital/private equity investment levels in the G-20 declined for the fourth consecutive year, falling 32 percent, to $4 billion. The United States continued to play a leading role in the venture capital/private equity category, accounting for 55 percent of 2013 investments.
Stock market investors’ confidence in the clean energy sector grew in 2013. Stock prices on the WilderHill New Energy Global Innovation Index, or NEX, which tracks leading renewable energy stocks, rose by 54 percent over the year—outpacing gains in major stock indexes such as the Standard & Poor’s 500. Consistent with rising stock prices, public market financing for company scale-ups across the G-20 increased by 176 percent, to $9.8 billion.
Solar takes the lead in annual capacity additions
For the first time in more than a decade, solar outpaced all other clean energy technology in terms of new generating capacity installed. Solar capacity additions increased by 29 percent compared with 2012 even though investment in the sector declined by 23 percent. This was due in part to ongoing price reductions, including significant cuts in manufacturing costs, but it was also a result of investment shifting from small-scale projects to less expensive large-scale ones. All told, a record 40 gigawatts of solar generating capacity was installed in 2013. By comparison, less than 40 GW of solar was installed from 2001 to 2010.
Installations in the wind sector were 40 percent less than a year earlier, declining by 21.6 GW. The United States accounted for more than 56 percent of that drop, as wind installations collapsed in light of delayed renewal of the production tax credit. Nonetheless, with 27 GW of capacity added worldwide in 2013, cumulative wind installations surpassed 307 GW in 2013—more than 40 percent of the world’s clean energy capacity.
On a regional basis, installations in 2013 dropped 48 percent in the Americas and 22 percent in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa region. Installations in the latter region were down for the first time in more than 10 years. By contrast, clean energy capacity in the Asia and Oceania region increased by 64 percent, with more than 50.1 GW of capacity installed. More than a third of Asia’s gains in capacity were in the Chinese and Japanese solar sectors, which added a total of 18.8 GW. Japan added 6.7 GW, and China’s addition of 12.1 GW of solar far outpaced forecasts—setting a one-year record for solar deployment by any country.
On a global basis, 87 GW of clean power was added in 2013, and cumulative installed capacity now surpasses 735 GW.
China holds a wide lead in the clean energy race
Although overall clean energy investment declined 6 percent in 2013, China solidified its leadership position in the global clean energy race by attracting $54.2 billion. Its clean energy sector is reorienting from an exclusive focus on exports toward greater domestic consumption, as evidenced by China’s dramatic growth in solar power capacity in recent years. Solar deployment increased almost fourfold in 2013, to an unprecedented 12.1 GW, besting its record of 3.2 GW in 2012. In addition, for the fifth year in a row, China deployed more than 10 GW of wind power. In total, China installed more than 35 GW of clean generating capacity in 2013, a record. In terms of investment, China led in the wind category with $28 billion and was second in the solar sector with $22.6 billion. Almost all of China’s investment was in the asset financing category, with $53.3 billion recorded, more than 40 percent of all G-20 asset financing.
The U.S. clean energy sector is in a holding pattern as the second-largest world market. The fulfillment of state-level renewable portfolio standards, the lack of progress on national energy policy, and uncertainty about the direction of policies on global warming pollution has dampened investor interest in the sector. Overall, clean energy investment in the United States declined 9 percent in 2013, to $36.7 billion. The United States remained the second-leading destination for wind energy investments, attracting $14 billion. It was third in solar energy investments, with $17.7 billion. As has been the case for several years, the United States continued to garner world-leading investment levels in the biofuels and energy efficient/ low-carbon technology subsectors. The United States also remains the dominant recipient for public market and venture capital/private equity investments, attracting $6.8 billion and $2.2 billion, respectively, in 2013.
U.S. wind installations in 2013 were down more than 90 percent, from a record installation of more than 13 GW of wind in 2012 to less than 1 GW in 2013. When the production tax credit was renewed in early 2013, slight changes in the law appear to have slowed a sharp drop in investment--deferring deployment of new wind capacity into 2014, when a strong rebound in capacity additions is forecast. Solar sector generating capacity continued to grow significantly, as it has in recent years. A record 4.4 GW of solar was added in the United States in 2013, 30 percent more than came online in 2012. Lower technology prices overall, and completion of a number of larger, less-expensive, utility-scale plants, fostered deployment growth despite lower investment totals.
Japan jumped from fifth to third place among G-20 nations for overall clean energy investment, reflecting a priority since the Fukushima nuclear disaster for new energy alternatives. In 2013, Japan became the fastest-growing clean energy market in the world, growing by 80 percent, to $28.6 billion. Most striking was a near doubling of investment in Japan’s solar sector, which received $28 billion in 2013, almost 30 percent of the G-20 total.
The United Kingdom defied the clean energy contraction that gripped the rest of Europe in 2013. Although clean energy investment in Germany, Spain, Italy, and France dropped by 40 percent or more, the United Kingdom experienced 13 percent growth in 2013. The U.K. was one of three G-20 countries to have investment gains last year, and it ranked fourth among G-20 nations. Most of this growth came in the wind sector, where investments increased by nearly 50 percent to $5.9 billion, on the strength of offshore projects and greater activity in public market financing. The world’s largest offshore wind project, the 630-MW London Array, was completed in 2013, and major financing was secured for the 210-MW Westermost Rough Offshore Wind Farm.
Investment levels in Germany were highly sensitive to clean energy feed-in tariff3 reductions in 2013. Financing fell 55 percent from 2012 levels, to $10 billion, and the country dropped from third to sixth place among G-20 nations. Wind investments were down by 16 percent, to $5.1 billion, and solar financing declined by more than $10 billion, to $4.8 billion. The recalibration of German clean energy policies also affected deployment levels. Wind capacity additions totaled 3.4 GW in 2013. New solar generating capacity additions were down 50 percent, to less than 4 GW, after record additions of almost 8 GW in 2012. Germany has the most installed solar of any country in the world, with 35.5 GW.
Strong clean energy investments in 2013 catapulted Canada up five spots to seventh place in the G-20. Investment grew by 45 percent, to $6.5 billion. The wind sector was especially strong, with financing increasing by more than 40 percent, to $3.6 billion. In Ontario province, a number of backlogged projects were permitted and several others were completed, such as the 270-MW South Kent Wind Farm and the 299-MW Blackspring Ridge project. The solar sector also recorded impressive growth, attracting $2.5 billion.
South Africa’s clean energy sector garnered $4.9 billion in 2013, and it moved up from the 10th–largest to ninth-largest market in the G-20. Although investment levels were down 14 percent last year, South Africa’s market has grown the second fastest in the G-20 over the past five years. Sixty percent of the country’s clean energy investment in 2013, $3 billion, went to the solar sector in conjunction with Phase II of its carefully planned reverse auctions. An additional $1.9 billion was invested in the wind sector.
Worldwide clean energy investment falls a 2nd year
Globally, public and private investment in solar, wind, and other technologies fell 11 percent in 2013, to $254 billion. Last year’s decline follows a 9 percent drop in 2012, and investment declined by one-fifth from the 2011 record of $318 billion.
Although investment in non-G-20 markets grew by 15 percent, with promising sectors emerging in such places as Chile and Uruguay, it dropped in the larger, established G-20 markets by 16 percent. In 2013, clean energy investment rose in only three G-20 countries: Japan, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
The results from 2013 indicate several ongoing developments affecting the clean energy marketplace. Investment has fallen in recent years in response to mutually reinforcing economic and political pressures in developed markets. Governments in Europe, the United States, and elsewhere have initiated fiscal austerity measures and curtailed certain clean energy incentives. The political environment surrounding climate change has also evolved in these countries, as domestic negotiations drag on and it remains uncertain whether the international community can agree on a comprehensive framework for reducing carbon emissions. Recent technological advancements in oil and gas recovery also have directed some investment back toward more traditional energy sources.
In response to these developments, the clean energy sector has experienced some consolidation—shuttering less-competitive companies and forcing the industry overall to become more efficient and capable of competing in a less-subsidized marketplace. It is a measure of the sector’s resilience that worldwide financing and investment have totaled more than $250 billion four years running. Moreover, impressive levels of deployment have been sustained as the prices for wind, solar, and energy-smart technologies have fallen. In view of industry maturation, Bloomberg New Energy Finance projects a 2014 rebound in worldwide investment and installation of renewable energy.
Investment in European market plummets
Clean energy investment in the region that encompasses Europe, the Middle East, and Africa declined sharply for the second year in a row, falling 42 percent in 2013 to levels not seen since the mid-2000s. This region had been the world’s most attractive clean energy market over the past decade, garnering a record $115 billion in 2011. But investment has since plummeted, tumbling to $55 billion in 2013, less than half that of 2011 levels. Most of Europe’s major clean energy markets decreased considerably in 2013, with year-over-year investments down 55 percent in Germany, 75 percent in Italy, and 84 percent in Spain. Investment increased only in the United Kingdom, as a few large offshore wind projects gained significant financing and several were completed. Overall, declines in the European region accounted for much of the reduction in global clean energy investment.
In contrast, steady, uninterrupted growth in clean energy investment in the Asia and Oceania region continued apace in 2013, with overall levels increasing 10 percent, to $102 billion. This was the only region to experience rising investment last year. China continued to dominate regional and global markets, attracting $54.2 billion in 2013, a decrease of 6 percent from 2012. But China’s decline was more than offset by gains in the Japanese market, which grew by 80 percent, to almost $29 billion.
Investment levels fell in the Americas for the second year in a row, to $52 billion, 8 percent lower than in 2012. Most notably, the region’s largest markets in North and South America—the United States and Brazil—were down 9 and 55 percent, respectively. For the first time, clean energy investment in Brazil was less than the combined total for the rest of Latin America. The Brazilian market slowed, as auctions for wind power flagged and only 600 MW of new capacity was added. In North America, significant new wind energy investments in Canada led to a 45 percent increase in 2013.
Solar investment falls sharply but maintains lead
For the fourth consecutive year, solar energy technologies attracted the largest share of G-20 clean energy investment, accounting for 52 percent of the total. Nonetheless, investment in solar technologies fell by 23 percent in 2013, to $97.6 billion, registering below $100 billion for the first time in four years. Solar investments drecreased by more than $10 billion in both Germany and Italy, accounting for approximately two-thirds of the overall decline.
Wind sector investments held relatively steady in 2013, slipping 1 percent, to $73.5 billion, and accounting for 39 percent of the G-20 total. Wind energy investment did not change appreciably in most major markets, except for a drop of more than 30 percent in Brazil. China continues to attract the largest share of wind energy investment by a wide margin, accounting for 38 percent of the global total.
Energy efficient/low-carbon technologies, which include smart meters and energy storage devices, constituted the only clean energy sector with rising investment levels, growing 15 percent, to $3.9 billion. More than two-thirds of the energy efficient/low-carbon technology investments were in the United States. Advanced energy efficiency products such as the Nest thermostat and promising energy storage and fuel cell technologies, such as those developed by Bloom Energy, have helped boost this sector. Bloom Energy raised $130 million to expand operations through a private equity investment.
G-20 investment in biofuels declined by 41 percent in 2013, to just under $3 billion. Other renewable energy technologies (geothermal, biomass, small hyrdro, and waste-to-energy) fell by 31 percent, to $10.7 billion. (See Figure 3 for a breakdown of investment by technology.)
Asset finance, small-distributed capacity investments decline
Investment in clean energy assets for larger plants and small-distributed capacity, which account for more than 80 percent of total clean energy investment, both fell. Asset financing dropped 14 percent in 2013, to $123.7 billion. China attracted a world-leading $53.3 billion worth of asset financing, more than 40 percent of the G-20 total, and the United States $19.8 billion.
Consistent with declines in the solar sector, investment in residential and small commercial solar capacity dropped 29 percent, to $52.5 billion, the lowest level recorded in the past four years. Japan garnered 44 percent of small-distributed capacity investments for a total of $23 billion, as its residential solar market expanded significantly.
Venture capital/private equity investment levels in the G-20 declined for the fourth consecutive year, falling 32 percent, to $4.0 billion. This kind of early-stage investment in innovative new clean energy companies has decreased since funding for capital-intensive solar companies has waned and clean-tech companies have not produced the rapid windfall payouts that many venture capitalists seek. The United States continued to play a leading role in venture capital/private equity, accounting for 55 percent of 2013 investments, with key financings for Bloom Energy (fuel cells), Joule Unlimited (biofuels), and Fluidic (energy storage).
Research and development investments made by governments and corporations worldwide rose by 1.2 percent, to $29.2 billion. In an encouraging development, investors signaled growing confidence as reflected in the stock prices of the NEX, which rose by 54 percent, outpacing gains in major stock indexes such as the Standard & Poor’s 500. Consistent with rising stock prices, public market financing for company scale-up across the G-20 increased by 176 percent, to $9.8 billion. Innovative financing models helped spur public market financing. NRG Energy, a U.S. utility, raised $430 million from investors interested in its portfolio of wind, solar, and other natural gas generating capacity. Other prominent public market transactions included initial public offerings by Pattern Energy Group, a wind project developer, and Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Infrastructure Capital in the United States, Foresight Solar Fund in the United Kingdom, and TransAlta Renewables in Canada.
Among the prominent bond offerings were those proffered by SolarCity and Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy, which issued an $850 million bond to help finance a major solar photovoltaic project in California. (For a full description of the financing categories explored in this report, see Figure 14 on Page 22.)
Solar capacity soars, installed wind surpasses 300 GW
In 2012, falling prices for wind and solar technologies allowed installed capacity to increase even though worldwide clean energy investment dropped. This was not the case in 2013. Prices continued to slide in 2013, especially for permitting and other “balance of system” costs, but investment was insufficient to prevent slippage in annual installed capacity. Overall investment was down 11 percent globally, but annual capacity additions in 2013 fell by only 1 percent, to 87 GW.
For the first time in more than a decade, more solar generating capacity was installed than any other clean energy technology. Solar capacity additions grew by 29 percent annually even though investment in the sector declined by 23 percent, compared with 2012. This was due in part to ongoing price reductions, but also to an investment shift from small-scale projects to less-expensive large-scale ones. At year’s end, a record 40 GW of solar generating capacity was installed in 2013; less than 40 GW of solar was installed from 2001 to 2010.
Installations in the wind sector declined by 21.6 GW (44 percent) in 2013, compared with the previous year. In the United States, wind installations were down more than 12 GW, as deployment sank 90 percent in response to uncertainty in 2012 over renewing the country’s production tax credit. Nonetheless, with 27 GW of capacity added in 2013, cumulative wind installations surpassed 307 GW, accounting for more than 40 percent of the world’s clean energy capacity.
On a regional basis, installations in 2013 dropped 48 percent in the Americas and 22 percent in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa region. Installations in this region were down for the first time in more than 10 years. By contrast, clean energy capacity in the Asia and Oceania region increased by 64 percent, with more than 50.1 GW of capacity installed. Almost half of Asia’s gains in capacity were logged in the Chinese and Japanese solar sectors, which added a total of 18.8 GW. Japan installed 6.7 GW, and China’s addition of 12.1 GW of solar far outpaced forecasts and was a one-year record for solar deployment by any country.