Close to $155 billion was invested in 2008 in renewable energy
companies and projects worldwide, not including large hydro. Of
this $13.5 billion of new private investment went into companies
developing and scaling-up new technologies alongside $117 billion
of investment in renewable energy projects from geothermal and
wind to solar and biofuels.
The 2008 investment is more than a four-fold increase since 2004
according to Global Trends in Sustainable Energy Investment 2009,
prepared for the UN Environment Programme's (UNEP) Sustainable
Energy Finance Initiative by global information provider New
Of the $155 billion, $105 billion was spent directly developing 40
GW of power generating capacity from wind, solar, small-hydro,
biomass and geothermal sources. A further $35 billion was spent on
developing 25 GW of large hydropower, according to the report.
This $140 billion investment in 65 GW of low carbon electricity
generation compares with the estimated $250 billion spent globally
in 2008 constructing 157GW of new power generating capacity from
It means that renewables currently account for the majority of
investment and over 40 percent of actual power generation capacity
additions last year.
Wind attracted the highest new investment ($51.8 billion, 1
percent growth on 2007), although solar made the largest gains
($33.5 billion, 49 percent growth) while biofuels dropped somewhat
($16.9 billion, 9 percent decrease).
Total transaction value in the sustainable energy sector during
2008 - including corporate acquisitions, asset re-financings and
private equity buy-outs - was $223 billion, an increase of 7
percent over 2007. But capital raised via the public stock markets
fell 51 percent to $11.4 billion as clean energy share prices lost
61 percent of their value during 2008. Investment in the second
half of 2008 was down 17 percent on the first half, and down 23
percent on the final six months of 2007, a trend that has
continued into 2009.
The investment surge of recent years and softened commodity
markets have started to ease supply chain bottlenecks, especially
in the wind and solar sectors, which will cause prices to fall
towards marginal costs and several players to consolidate. The
price of solar PV modules, for example, is predicted to fall by
over 43 percent in 2009.
On a regional basis, investment in Europe in 2008 was $49.7
billion, a rise of 2 percent, and in North America was $30.1
billion, a fall of 8 percent. These regions experienced a
slow-down in the financing of new renewable energy projects due to
the lack of project finance and the fact that tax credit-driven
markets are mostly ineffective in a downturn.
With developed country market growth stalled (down 1.7 percent),
developing countries surged forward 27 percent over 2007 to $36.6
billion, accounting for nearly one third of global investments.
China led new investment in Asia, with an 18 percent increase over
2007 to $15.6 billion, mostly in new wind projects, and some
Investment in India grew 12 percent to $4.1 billion in 2008.
Brazil accounted for almost all renewable energy investment in
Latin America in 2008, with ethanol receiving $10.8 billion, up 76
percent from 2007. Africa achieved a modest increase by
comparison, with investments up 10 percent to approximately $1.1