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Published on December 8th, 2011 | by Andrew


Trillionth Dollar Invested in Clean Energy & Tech, Surpassing that for Fossil Fuel Power

December 8th, 2011 by  

Photo courtesy First Solar Inc.

Renewable energy investments are surpassing investments in new fossil fuel power for the first time ever, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance as reported by Joe Romm on ThinkProgress. Adding to the encouraging news, Bloomberg New Energy Finance reported that the trillionth dollar has been invested in renewable energy, energy efficiency and smart energy technologies.

Wind, solar, wave and biomass energy attracted $187 billion of investment capital in 2010 compared to $157 billion for natural gas, oil and coal, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s latest data and calculations. A faster pace of wind and solar power installations, along with oversupply in various wind and solar power plant inputs, is driving installed costs lower, making these clean, renewable alternatives more competitive with coal using conventional cost and return on investment measures and methods, even given their increasingly glaring inadequacies.

Trillion Dollar Baby

Annual clean energy investment has increased nearly five-fold, from $52 billion in 2004 to $243 billion last year, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 29%, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance statistics. That’s forecast to double over the next eight years, to reach $395 billion a year, Bloomberg New Energy Finance reported Nov. 16.

On Dec. 6, the clean energy and tech market research firm reported that more than $1 trillion has been invested in renewable energy, energy efficiency and smart energy technologies since the firm began tracking data in 2004.

“Like the recent birth of the world’s seven billionth baby, it is impossible to pinpoint with certainty the one trillionth dollar of investment. However it is almost certain it took place during the last two weeks of November, probably somewhere in the developing world,” according to Bloomberg’s news report.

The latest statistics indicate just how resilient clean energy, clean tech and smart energy economic sectors are proving to be. Significant headway continues to be made despite a fragile economic recovery, ongoing sovereign debt problems in the EU and US, and mercantilist trade policies that raise the threat of a trade war. Added to all this is the pessimistic outlook that a global treaty to succeed or extend the Kyoto Protocol to cut global greenhouse gas emissions will be concluded at the UNFCCC’s COP 17 conference in Durban, South Africa.

“The trillionth-dollar milestone shows that the world is not waiting for a deal on climate in order to start turning the super-tanker away from fossil fuels,” said Bloomberg New Energy Finance chief executive Michael Liebreich.

“It should serve as a message to the UN and all those in Durban to stop obsessing about a binding deal to cap carbon emissions, and to think much harder about how to speed up investment in the solutions. Another five years of investment growth at the same compound rates, and the world will have broken the back of emissions growth.” 


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About the Author

I've been reporting and writing on a wide range of topics at the nexus of economics, technology, ecology/environment and society for some five years now. Whether in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Americas, Africa or the Middle East, issues related to these broad topical areas pose tremendous opportunities, as well as challenges, and define the quality of our lives, as well as our relationship to the natural environment.

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