Investments in clean energy projects fell by 15% in the first three months of 2015, Bloomberg New Energy Finance data show. The $50.5 billion that was invested in the first quarter was down from $59.3 billion a year earlier and was the lowest quarterly total since the first period of 2013, according to Bloomberg News.
The drop was largely due to the strengthening U.S. dollar and because some large wind project investments were recorded in the first quarter of 2014, Bloomberg says. Adjusting for those factors, spending this year versus last was about even, says Michael Liebreich, chairman of Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s advisory board.
Among regions and countries, China saw first-quarter clean energy spending fall by 24% to $11 billion. In Europe, investment dropped 30% to $9.7 billion, while Brazil saw its clean energy investments plummet 62% to $1.1 billion, according to Bloomberg.
Clean energy spending in the U.S. rose 2% to $9.6 billion in the quarter, and India’s investments jumped 59% to $1.6 billion. The biggest gainer was South Africa, which saw $3.1 billion in clean energy investments in the first quarter, compared to virtually nothing a year earlier. The country is expanding its power capacity by taking advantage of its wind and solar resources, Bloomberg says.
In terms of sector investments, solar was up 7% in the first quarter from a year earlier ($31.8 billion), wind was down 30% ($15.1 billion), biomass and waste-to-energy was up 94% ($1.7 billion), and biofuels fell 64% ($447 million). Investment in energy smart technology companies slumped 91% ($281 million).
Venture capital and private equity investment in clean energy fell 21% in the first quarter compared to the same period in 2014, to $1 billion, according to Bloomberg’s figures.
It’s too early to say if the overall drop in the first quarter was an anomaly or if it will continue over the rest of 2015, Bloomberg New Energy Finance senior analyst Angus McCrone says in the Bloomberg article.
On the more positive side, global capacity additions of renewable energy are outpacing coal, natural gas and oil combined, says Bloomberg. This shift first occurred in 2013, they say, when the world added 143 gigawatts of renewable electricity capacity, compared with 141 gigawatts in new plants that burn fossil fuels. And by 2030 more than four times as much renewable capacity will be added, says Bloomberg.