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.

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