$329 Billion Invested in Clean Energy in 2015
Last year was a record year for clean energy investment, and 2016 should be even better.
That comes from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), which publishes global figures on the clean energy sector. According to BNEF, the world saw an all-time high of $329 billion invested in clean energy in 2015, which beat the previous record of $318 billion set back in 2011.
The main takeaway from the BNEF report is that the epochal transition from fossil fuels to clean energy is very much underway. Find that hard to believe? Consider this: solar and wind alone accounted for 121 GW of new electric generation capacity in 2015, about half of the total new capacity installed. That came even as oil and gas prices plunged to their lowest levels in more than a decade. In other words, as Michael Liebrich of BNEF put it, “[t]he world is now adding more renewable energy generating capacity than non-renewable.”
Or consider this: in the same week that BNEF announced that the clean energy sector saw a record $329 billion in investment, Wood Mackenzie said that $380 billion worth of oil exploration projects have been cancelled. While the damage done to the oil and gas industry has been self-inflicted, the shift in capital is notable and could be a harbinger of what is to come. Clean energy saw record investment even while oil and gas prices plunged.
Underpinning the strong growth for new solar and wind are falling costs for equipment and installation, stronger companies with competitive supply chains, and increasingly supportive policy. The Paris climate agreement reached in December, although non-binding, will add more momentum to clean energy moving forward. Liebrich of BNEF said the Paris agreement was the equivalent to “the world serving divorce papers to the fossil fuel industry.” Also, the U.S. Congress extended expiring solar and wind tax credits through the end of the decade.
What many may not know about the clean energy sector in 2015 is that China alone accounted for more than $110 billion in clean energy investment, or nearly one-third of the total investment dollars. China is cracking down on its coal consumption (and even on coal production), while aggressively installing new solar and wind. China will again be the largest clean energy market in 2016, BNEF says. China had a handful of 300 MW offshore wind projects receive investment in 2015, for example.