Global clean energy investment has been on a roll lately. Bloomberg New Energy Finance has just reported Q2 results and they’re up 9% over Q2 last year. That’s chump change compared to this year’s quarter-to-quarter movement, which saw a 33% spike from Q1 to Q2.
The new Q2 report follows a strong Q1 for 2014. As to whether or not this signals a long term trend, think Solyndra bankruptcy — but in a good way — and you’ll see why BNEF analysts are sharing a blue-skies outlook for global clean energy investment.
Clean Energy By The Numbers
According to today’s BNEF report, the total for Q2 2014 was $63.6 billion, which sounds pretty impressive.
However, the record for global clean energy investment was set at $78 billion back in 2011 and it hit a second-highest mark of $69.6 billion in Q2 2012, so we still have some catching up to do.
You can check out the full report for a more detailed breakdown, but for those of you on the run the Q2 2014 highlights for investment in individual projects include the Netherlands’ record-breaking Gemini offshore wind farm and the Cemex Venitka wind farm in Mexico.
Also cited is the Ashalim 1 concentrating solar power project in Israel’s Negev Desert. That project is of particular interest to CleanTechnica because we had a chance to tour several new solar power plants in the Arava region of the Negev several months ago.
All located on kibbutzes (as is Ashalim 1), the solar projects have been coordinated to replace diesel generators used by the tourist city of Haifa.
With the diesel-killing angle in mind, the demo projects are also designed as proof-of-concept for exportable solar technology, going head-to-head against cheap diesel generators to capture the growing energy market in Africa and other areas of development.
If you’re looking for a particular reason why BNEF is so optimistic, take a look at what’s going on in Arava and you’ll see that the energy transportation paradigm is shifting away from harvesting and transporting massive quantities of fuel, to a more sustainable model in which energy-harvesting technology is the main export.
Blue Skies Ahead For Global Clean Energy Investment
The BNEF report cites Michael Liebreich, chairman of the BNEF advisory board, at length.
According to Liebreich, the main factors behind the downward turn from Q2 2011 include Europe’s economic slump, regulatory uncertainties, and a steep dive in clean energy hardware.
Those factors have had a depressing effect on venture capital and private investment, but with a surge in demand for clean energy (here’s just one example) driving an uptick in dealmaking, Liebreich sees the “green shoots of recovery.”
Here’s two more snippets from Liebreich:
The new investment upswing is broad-based, with activity rising across wind and solar, large-scale and small-scale projects, and covering most of the big markets…
We are expecting the full year figures for 2014 to show a clear rebound in global investment in clean energy. The debt-and-policy-fueled bubble years of 2007-2010 were inevitably going to be followed by a period of consolidation; that period now definitely looks to be over and the industry is gathering momentum once again.
With Liebreich’s analysis in mind, the aforementioned notorious 2011 Solyndra bankruptcy comes into sharper focus.
House Republicans tried to make Solyndra a failure symbol for the Obama Administration’s energy policies, but Solyndra went belly up as prices for solar panels crashed, paralleling the global clean energy investment trend.
In any case, although the Energy Department’s Loan Programs Office was left holding the bag, taxpayers were amply protected by the LPO’s built-in accommodation for risk. A much-publicized House investigation into the “scandal” merely became the first in a string of much-publicized, but failed, investigations helmed by Rep. Darrell Issa (R- Investigations).
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