Where the clean energy money flowed last year

New investments in clean energy — from project financing to government funding to VC — rebounded in 2014 to $310 billion invested globally, just shy of the annual global record for clean energy investments in 2011, according to a new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. That is 16 percent growth from the amount of funding that went into clean energy in 2013. The founder of Bloomberg New Energy finance, Michael Liebreich, who is also chairman of the advisory board for Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said that while BNEF was predicting a bounce back in 2014, the annual figures “exceeded our expectations.”

The $310 billion includes a lot of things, like investments in new big clean energy projects — say, a new solar or wind farm or a battery bank — funding into rooftop solar projects, government funding in clean energy R&D, money into corporate R&D (from GE, for example), new investments in the public markets (like an IPO, or Tesla’s convertible issues), and equity investments into developing technology from venture capitalists and private equity investors. Silicon Valley makes up a very tiny fraction of this overall investing.

OffshoreWind

It was the big clean energy projects (asset financing) that grabbed most of the money ($171 billion). Solar panel farms in China and the U.S., and offshore wind farms in Europe received the lions share of these funds.

Solar was single biggest contributor to the clean energy funding, says the report, delivering almost half of the total, the sector’s highest contribution to date. In addition, there were seven European billion-dollar offshore wind projects financed, including ones in the U.K., the Netherlands and Germany.

Tesla owners take a ride in the new Tesla "D" model electric sedan at the Hawthorne Airport on October 09, 2014 in Hawthorne, California.

Tesla owners take a ride in the new Tesla “D” model electric sedan at the Hawthorne Airport on October 09, 2014 in Hawthorne, California.

China, in particular, was responsible for 29 percent of the world’s total clean energy investments, and the country drew in $89.5 billion for clean energy last year. China’s investment in solar made up the majority of that. U.S. solar investments were high, too.

While early stage VC investing continues to be important for developing future clean energy companies (the next-generation of Tesla’s and SolarCity’s of the world), VC and private equity investments in clean energy remained a small portion of the overall funding, at $4.8 billion for the year. That figure was up 16 percent from the year earlier, but far below the $12.3 billion record in 2008.

Funding for Clean Energy Projects Took a Dive in Q1

Global clean energy investment fell to $31.1 billion in the first three months of this year, its lowest quarterly total in two years, Bloomberg New Energy Finance reported Friday. That contrasts with an uptick in greentech venture capital investing in Q1.

Today in Cleantech

Startups may have raked in cleantech venture capital in the first quarter, but big renewable energy projects struggled to raise cash. Global clean energy investment fell to $31.1 billion in the first three months of this year, its lowest quarterly total in two years, Bloomberg New Energy Finance reported Friday. That’s down more than a third from a record $47.1 billion in the fourth quarter of 2010. While part of the big drop was due to a “hangover” from the record-high investments made in the last three months of 2010, it’s also based on some serious headwinds facing the industry. Solar power, for one, is being squeezed by an anticipated slowdown in feed-in tariffs and other government subsidies in big European markets such as Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic, and U.S. wind power projects have been hit hard by falling prices for natural gas, which hit lows not seen since 2002, the report stated. What were the bright spots? The report identified Brazilian and Chinese wind power projects, with China spending $10 billion, or 25 percent more than the first quarter of 2010, and Brazil doubling its wind investment to $2.1 billion compared to the same quarter last year. China remains the leader in clean energy investment, with a 39 percent increase in to hit a record $54.4 billion last year. That was enough to give China the lead over the U.S. in installed renewable energy capacity, as well as retain its spot as the top manufacturer of wind turbines and solar panels.

Today in Cleantech

What a good year 2010 turned out to be for big green energy, after all. Global clean energy investment reached a record high of $243 billion in 2010, crushing 2009’s $186.5 billion and 2008’s $180.1 billion, according to a Tuesday report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Leading the surge were smaller, distributed solar projects in Europe, up 91 percent from 2009 to $59.6 billion, as well as a 30-percent boost in Chinese clean power investment to reach $51.1 billion. Where 2010 didn’t reach greentech records were in venture capital and public markets — last year’s VC haul of $8.8 billion beat 2009 but failed to top 2008’s record $11.8 billion, while public market investment rose to a post-recession high of $17.4 billion, but failed to match 2007’s record of $24.6 billion. Taken in whole, the report appears to support the contention that small-scale, venture-backed firms will have an increasingly difficult time competing with established clean energy players in 2011. While Cleantech Group’s report last week set 2010’s VC haul as the second-highest on record, it also showed that fourth-quarter greentech VC investment was down from the third and second quarters. What 2011 will hold for challengers to the emerging status quo is yet to be seen — I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

What Will It Take for Solar to Hit 44GW by 2020?

Solar energy accounts for less than 1 percent of the U.S. electricity sources, but $100 billion of private investment and continual government subsidies could push that to 4.3 percent by 2020, according to a new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Today in Cleantech

Fresh on the heels of Google’s big splash into transmission cables for offshore wind, here’s a report showing that clean-energy financing’s 11 percent rise in the third quarter was largely driven by investment in offshore wind power grids. Bloomberg New Energy Finance says the quarter’s record-setting $32.8 billion in worldwide asset financing was boosted by $1.9 billion raised for “HelWin 1” and “DolWin 1,” two big high-voltage direct current (HVDC) cable projects set to link Germany to North Sea wind farms by 2013. TransPower, part of the Dutch state-owned TenneT Holding, is in charge, and Siemens and ABB are laying the cables.