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2015 Clean Energy Investment Surges In Spite Of Fossil Fuel Price Crash

Clean energy investment surged to a record $329 billion in 2015, up 4% from 2014 and up by 3% over 2011’s previous high.

According to figures published by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) on Thursday, 2015 was not only the highest year for clean energy investment, but also for renewable energy installation, with 64 GW of wind and 57 GW of solar PV commissioned during the calendar year — an increase of nearly 30% over 2014.

China, Africa, the US, Latin America, and India all contributed to 2015’s record investment numbers.

BNEF-13

Image courtesy of Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s new interactive data tool showing clean energy trends in 2015

“These figures are a stunning riposte to all those who expected clean energy investment to stall on falling oil and gas prices,” said Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “They highlight the improving cost-competitiveness of solar and wind power, driven in part by the move by many countries to reverse-auction new capacity rather than providing advantageous tariffs, a shift that has put producers under continuing price pressure.”

Liebreich refers to the assumption made during 2015 at the crash of fossil fuel prices that renewable energy would follow suit. Bloomberg note four trends that were expected to restrain investment during the year:

  • the further decline of solar PV costs
  • the strength of the US currency
  • the continued weakness of the European economy
  • the aforementioned crash of fossil fuel commodity prices

However, despite these very real trends, Bloomberg show that dollar investment globally grew in 2015 to nearly six times its 2004 total.

Global clean energy investment 2004-15, $billion

 

BNEF-14

“Wind and solar power are now being adopted in many developing countries as a natural and substantial part of the generation mix: they can be produced more cheaply than often high wholesale power prices; they reduce a country’s exposure to expected future fossil fuel prices; and above all they can be built very quickly to meet unfulfilled demand for electricity,” Liebreich continued. “And it is very hard to see these trends going backwards, in the light of December’s Paris Climate Agreement.”

Some of the biggest projects financed during 2015 included the UK’s 580 MW Race Bank and 336 MW Galloper, with estimated costs of $2.9 billion and $2.3 billion respectively, Germany’s 402 MW Veja Mate, at $2.1 billion, and China’s Longyuan Haian Jiangjiasha and Datang & Jiangsu Binhai, each of 300 MW and $850 million.

 
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