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.


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.

Google-Backed Wind Farm Backbone Moves Forward

The East Coast offshore wind farm backbone that made headlines when Google announced it had become an investor, has now passed a key regulatory hurdle, though there are many more hurdles ahead.

Feds Blow $50M Into Offshore Wind Research

Offshore wind power will get a $50.5 million research boost and dedicated “Wind Energy Area” in the mid-Atlantic region under a new federal plan. Google and co-investors in a $5 billion offshore wind transmission project will be pleased.

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.

Today in Cleantech

Google is taking a step into the Atlantic in its ongoing wind power ambitions. The New York Times reported late last night that Google is investing in a huge transmission cable project, the Atlantic Wind Connection, hoped to carry up to 6,000 megawatts of power from yet-to-be built wind turbines off the Mid-Atlantic coast to states from New Jersey to Virginia. The project’s expected to cost $5 billion, and Google’s 37.5 percent stake in the initial development phase could end up being worth $200 million if it succeeds, the NYT reports. Google’s already committed to buying wind power and invested in a North Dakota wind farm earlier this year. On a side note, the NYT says that governors of East Coast states have been lobbying the Senate to oppose the building of transmission lines to carry Midwest wind power to the eastern seaboard — perhaps as a bargaining chip for federal support of this offshore wind power plan?

YouTube’s Content Head Leaves to Join Ben Silverman’s Co.

Jordan Hoffner will leave his position as head of content partnerships at YouTube (s GOOG) to join Ben Silverman’s new content endeavor at IAC (s IACI). The announcement was made yesterday at YouTube, and paidContent was the first to report it.
Coming from NBC (s GE), Hoffner was an injection of big media know-how when he joined YouTube after it was acquired by Google in 2006. The video-sharing behemoth has certainly made a push under Hoffner’s watch to bring on more premium content partnerships, but success has been spotty, at best.
The loss of Hoffner also creates a bit of a public face vacuum for YouTube. Hoffner was often found making the conference circuit rounds on behalf of the company. With him gone, co-founder Chad Hurley seldom appearing publicly, and Steve Chen out of the picture, YouTube will need a new public figurehead. One upwardly mobile exec is Chris Maxcy, YouTube’s head of music partnerships, who will be taking over for Hoffner.
Hoffner’s new role at Silverman’s company is unknown, but presumably includes creating media partnerships. Silverman has described his new venture as “Warner Bros. meets BBDO,” and said he plans to specialize in cross-platform storytelling with active involvement from advertisers from the get-go.

Daily Sprout

Cash for Clunkers Fraud, Already: The Department of Transportation warns consumers and dealers to watch out for scammers implying you need  to register with them to be eligible for vouchers under the new cash for clunkers program. “This is completely untrue.” — The Truth About Cars

Offshore Wind Leases Blow In: Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today issued five exploratory leases for wind energy production offshore from New Jersey and Delaware. — Press Release

Toyota Still Stuck on Hydrogen: Toyota Motor has in the past hinted at a 2014 launch for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, but now it plans to roll out fuel cell vehicles in 2015. — AFP via Autoblog

GreenHunter on the Prowl for a Buyer: “GreenHunter Energy said today it is exploring a possible sale of its massive biodiesel refinery at the Houston Ship Channel as it works to improve its balance sheet and struggles with a tough market for the alternative fuel.” — Houston Chronicle

Chick Chick Vroom?: University of Delaware scientists say carbonized chicken feather fibers could be used to store hydrogen for cars at a fraction of the cost of carbon nanotubes and metal hydrates. — Green Car Congress

Daily Sprout

DOE Details More Funding Opps: The Department of Energy today detailed some of how more than $300 million in investments funded by the stimulus package and the agency’s annual appropriations will be divvied up among clean energy technologies including carbon capture from coal, solar power and high-efficiency cars and trucks. — Press Release

IBM Researching Efficient Batteries: IBM is all over the smart grid and bringing IT to the energy industry, but looks like it’s got its eyes on batteries, too. The MIT Tech Review profiles IBM’s work to commercialize batteries “that store 10 times as much energy as today’s within the next five years.” — MIT Tech Review.

China Wants U.S. Cleantech: China wants the U.S. to offer up “top of the line” clean energy technologies as part of the next climate agreement. A U.S. envoy says there’s room for agreement. — Associated Press

Chromasun Hot for Solar A/C: Startup Chromasun plans to apply concentrating solar power techniques used in utility-scale power plants on a small scale to cool commercial buildings. — CNET’s Green Tech

Wind Turbines Out to Sea, Way Out: StatoilHydro and Siemens are installing what they say is the world’s first large-scale floating turbine to exploit the potential of the technology in deep waters. — NYT’s Green Inc.