China world leader in clean energy investment

7 April 2014

BEIJING: The clean energy industry is now a US$250 billion facet of the world economy, with China, the US and Japan leading the global renewables race, research by the Pew Charitable Trust has revealed.

The report, Who's Winning the Clean Energy Race? 2013 Edition, highlighted that 87 gigawatts (GW) of new clean power were introduced in 2013, bringing total international capacity to 735GW.

For the first time ever, solar energy surpassed wind as the most popular renewable power source, with a 29% increase bringing total solar power installations to 144GW.

However, the report also recognizes that overall clean energy investment declined by 11% in 2013.

Renewable energy markets in emerging economies are experiencing significant growth with a 15% increase in clean energy investment in 2013, the research shows.

China was world number one for clean energy investment, due in part to significant increases in wind and solar power. The Asian nation attracted US$54.2 billion in 2013 which resulted in more than 35GW of new renewable power generating capacity.

The Asia-Oceania region, which includes Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, and South Korea also expanded and is now worth US$102 billion.

One of the biggest success stories was Japan, who in 2013 became the fastest growing market in the world with an 80% increase on 2012 investments. Investment in the Japanese solar sector stood at US$28 billion in 2013, accounting for close to 30% of total G-20 solar power.

However, the G20 industrialized economies decreased their investment by 16% during the time frame examined. The exceptions to this trend were Japan, Canada and the UK who all expanded their clean energy sectors in 2013.

Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew's clean energy program noted that "there are signs that the sector is reaping the rewards of becoming a more mature industry. Prices for technologies continue to drop, making them increasingly competitive with conventional power sources. Key clean energy stock indexes rose significantly in 2013, with public market financing up by 176%”.

However, the Pew program director also acknowledged that overall clean energy sector investment declined, having suffered a “slow recovery from a global recession and damaging policy uncertainty”.

Changhua Wu, Greater China Director, The Climate Group, commented: "China has prioritized the expansion of the renewable energy sector in recent years and The Pew Charitable Trust report confirms this commitment to low carbon growth. As the world leader in clean energy, China must continue to act as an innovative champion of wind and solar. In 2013 China invested significantly in both sectors, and as a result we saw almost fourfold growth in solar power. This is a fantastic result and one which should facilitate further growth and development of the renewable energy market in the future."

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By Alana Ryan

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