Global clean energy investment fell to USD 53.1 billion (EUR 46.7bn) in the first quarter of 2016, mainly due to a slowdown of activity in China, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) said today.
Investment is down 22% compared with the fourth quarter of 2015 and 12% below its year-ago level.
China's clean energy investment slumped 50% on the quarter and 37% on the year, down to USD 11.8 billion as wind and solar developers paused after a rush last year to qualify for soon-to-expire electricity tariffs, BNEF said.
"Based on Q1 figures, 2016 is going to be hard-pressed to beat last year’s record investment total," commented Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board at BNEF. While the fundamentals behind global clean energy investment remain strong, what happens in China in 2016 will be crucial to the world outturn, he added.
Total clean energy investment in 2015 reached a record USD 328.9 billion, up 4% on 2014.
Three billion-dollar wind project financings in Europe failed to make up for the Chinese lull. Financings for the 1.2-GW Hornsea One offshore wind farm in the UK, the 714-MW East Anglia One project, also off the UK, and Norway's 1-GW Fosen onshore wind portfolio helped make Europe the strongest performing region in the quarter, bucking the trend of recent years. Clean energy investment in Europe rose 22% quarter-on-year and no less than 70% year-on-year to USD 17 billion.
Investment in the US was relatively stable falling 7% on the quarter but rising 9% on the year to USD 9.7 billion.
Besides China, other countries that made slower starts to 2016 include Brazil, South Africa, Japan, Chile, Mexico and Uruguay.
The fall in global investment in the first quarter also reflects a "notably weak" equity raising by clean energy companies on public markets. This was down 76% from the first quarter of 2015 to just USD 552 million.
"A few individual stocks – including US solar players SunEdison, Vivint Solar and SolarCity – suffered much sharper falls, and this may will have dampened investor confidence," said Luke Mills, energy economics associate at BNEF.
(USD 1.0 = EUR 0.880)
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