Clean Energy Investment Headed for Second Annual Decline

Photographer: Imaginechina via AP Images
High-voltage power lines mounted on pylons transmit electricity in Shanghai, China, on May 11, 2013.

Clean-energy investment fell 14 percent in the third quarter from the prior three months as Europe curbed subsidies and cheaper U.S. natural gas lured investment.

The $45.9 billion spent makes it “almost certain” that annual investment in renewables and energy-smart technologies will fall for the second consecutive year from $281 billion in 2012, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said in a statement.

Investment in the quarter was 20 percent lower than the same period last year as spending in China, the U.S. and Europe fell. The U.S. saw the largest decline, sliding 41 percent to $5.5 billion, according to the London-based research company.

Europe’s clean-energy industry is retrenching after subsidies were reduced in nations from Germany to Spain, which helped propel record growth in previous years. Cheap gas in the U.S. driven by a shale-drilling boom and a reduction in China’s spending on wind power wind power also contributed to the overall decline, the London-based consultant said.

“Governments accept that the world has a major problem with climate change but, for the moment, appear too engrossed in short-term domestic issues to take the decisive action needed,” Michael Liebreich, chief executive officer of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said in the statement.

While the $45.9 billion is still substantial and greater than that invested in 2004, the “loss of momentum since 2011 is worrying,” he said. Envoys from more than 190 nations meet in Warsaw next month aiming to work on a treaty that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

Weakest Quarter

A “crumb of comfort” is that installation of global solar photovoltaic capacity is set to reach a record this year, at about 36.7 gigawatts, BNEF said. A decline in the cost of the technology will reduce the overall amount invested in solar.

Asset finance for renewable energy projects bigger than 1-megawatt was $26.4 billion compared with $31.9 billion in the second quarter. Venture capital and private equity investment had its weakest quarter since 2005, falling to $724 million from $1.3 billion, BNEF said.

Investment in clean-energy companies through public market fund raising fell to $2 billion from $3.8 billion. That still beat $1.6 billion in the third quarter of 2012, propelled by July’s $461.5 million initial public offering by The Renewables Infrastructure Group Ltd., according to BNEF.

Clean energy investment in China fell to $13 billion from $13.8 billion in the second quarter. Japan, India, Germany and France all declined while Brazil rose to $1.1 billion from $950 million and the U.K. increased to $2.6 billion from from $1.6 billion.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sally Bakewell in London at sbakewell1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net

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