New Energy Investment – This Time a Turning Point?

In Nature Energy’s February editorial (see details in the links section on this page) a concise and insightful summary of 2015’s investment in clean energy technology is graphically outlined, using data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance reports.

It shows the rapid rise in monetary terms ($329billion invested in the last year), and also links to reports showing how employment in the clean energy sector is also outstripping traditional oil and gas numbers in the US.

Power capacity installation is also now higher in dollar terms with renewables, than from fossil fuels sources combined, with China and the US leading the way (unhindered it seems even with the low oil prices prevailing last year). The analysis suggests that wind and solar cost curves have reached a point where they are starting to find sustainable levels of corporate investment, irrespective of oil and gas prices.

Many commentators are prone to use this type of data to announce turning points in the renewable landscape – but, they may be starting to be on to something.

For now, a detailed summary quote from the Nature piece itself:

“Bloomberg New Energy Finance recently released their clean energy investment figures for 2015 ( The numbers make for fascinating reading. Not only did last year see a new record for installed wind and photovoltaic capacity (64 GW and 57 GW, respectively), but it also set a new bar for global investment at US$329 billion. Breaking the numbers down, however, reveals some unexpected trends and developments.

The bulk of the global investment (some US$199 billion) came in the form of financing for utility-scale energy projects. Solar and wind farms, biomass plants, and small hydroelectric schemes are clearly on the rise, buoyed by falling costs and expanding policy support for renewable schemes.

On a national scale, China once again comes out on top with an investment of US$110.5 billion, spurred by its continuing desire to meet growing energy demand while cutting pollution and cleaning its cities’ air. Their total represents nearly double that of second place USA. Disappointingly, given its historic stance on climate change and early adoption of renewables, Europe continues to show a net decline from its 2011 peak, despite the continued championing of renewable energy from many of its constituent nations. Germany and France saw significant drops in investment, although the UK witnessed a growth of some 24%, which is somewhat surprising given the policy turnarounds and subsequent uncertainty witnessed throughout 2015.

But perhaps most striking was the finding that non-OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries represented 50% of the market, while new markets like Mexico, Chile, South Africa and Morocco saw enormous gains in investment, over double or even triple their past amounts in some cases. These developments surely cement the expansion of clean energy as a truly global trend.

These new records and the growing national variations are staggering, especially in light of the low oil prices over the past eighteen months. Considering that the installed capacity for renewables recently surpassed that of fossils (, it’s hard not to feel that a turning point has been reached