Green Tech Investments Continue to Rise

Investment in renewable energy technology is supposed to solve everything from high unemployment rates to global warming. In the US, candidates are battling over who is the “greenest” presidential contender, and unrest in the Middle East has fossil-fuel consumers constantly on edge. But the region that stepped up alternative-energy investments the most in 2011 was India.

According to the Worldwatch Institute, an independent research organization on energy, resources, and the environment, India's investment in solar and wind power increased by 52 percent from 2010 — the highest growth rate for any single country.

Although total investments from developing countries — which the Institute identifies as China, India, and Brazil — lagged industrial nations, the sum reached $89 billion last year. Total new investments in renewable power and fuels reached $257 billion in 2011, with industrial nations accounting for $168 billion overall, the Institute reports.

The US and China are striving to become leaders in alternative energy technology and are embroiled in a trade battle over solar cells and panels. China continues to invest heavily in alternative energy, with $52.2 billion in new investments in 2011 — the highest for any single country. In terms of the pace of growth, however, the United States scored a 57 percent increase over 2010 levels with $50.8 billion in new investment, outpacing all countries except India's 62 percent.

Other highlights from the report:

  • Driven by 52 percent growth, solar technologies led all renewable energy investment by technology, taking over the top spot previously held by the wind sector.
  • Investments in small-scale distributed generation power projects (with capacities of less than 1 megawatt) grew by 25 percent to $75.8 billion in 2011.
  • Total R&D investment in renewable energy technologies fell 16 percent to $8.3 billion in 2011; investments in venture capital and private equity fell by 6 percent to $5 billion in 2011; while asset financing — an indicator of current sector activity — amounted to $164 billion in 2011, an increase from $139 billion in 2010.
  • Initial trends from the first two quarters of 2012 indicate that investment in the renewables sector has fallen behind the impressive pace set last year.

Solar continues to be the leading contender in renewable energy and a key market for high tech. On the upside for consumers, costs to deliver alternative energies are dropping. That correlates to a downside for manufacturers of solar cells and related equipment, however, that are dropping prices to remain competitive.

7 comments on “Green Tech Investments Continue to Rise

  1. Nemos
    October 11, 2012

    “Solar continues to be the leading contender in renewable energy and a key market for high tech” 

    There are two key factors for solar technology to continually be successful:

    The first is the improvement of sun/electric rate factor (if I am not wrong today we have a 20% rate) that means only 20% of the sun's energy transforms to electric.

    The second factor effects also the first one is the cost per cell (the sum of cells make a photovoltaic panel) 

  2. SP
    October 12, 2012

    I guess Governments can pay a big role in enhancing solar markets and implementing it. They can try making it mandatory to use solar panels in all residential appartments in liew of geysers or inverters. Like now they are making it a law that every apprtment building must have a bio gas plant on their own to handle the organic waste. Municipal corporations will not take the organic wastes from the appartment complexes. Well we have only two months to set it up but we have to do it.

    October 12, 2012

    How much did India invest in real dollars over the last few years so we can see how significant the growth percentage is?

  4. Barbara Jorgensen
    October 12, 2012

    FScot: I had the same question which I was trying to dodge because it was not mentioned in the report summary. You have to buy the report or subscribe to monthly reports for that elusive number. However,  of $71 billion invested by India, Brazil and China; China accounted for around $50 billion. (Text below) So I'm going with “less than $20 billion” for India.

    In contrast, the 35 percent of global new investment that went to developing countries increased 10 percent, to $89 billion.5  Of that sum, China, India, and Brazil accounted for $71 billion in total investment.

  5. Daniel
    October 15, 2012

    “Investment in renewable energy technology is supposed to solve everything from high unemployment rates to global warming”

    Barbara, there is an acute shortage of energy all over the world and it can be cove up by using the renewal energy sources. After last year's disaster in Japan's atomic reactor, some of the countries stopped expansion of nuclear reactors and planning to invest more on renewal energy sources. But I don't know whether it can reduce the unemployment rate.

  6. Daniel
    October 15, 2012

    Nemos, I know in some of the countries government and other funding agencies are giving subsidies for solar plants. In my country, government is providing a subsidy of 60% of the total investment cost for solar plants. More over they have made the provision to buy back energy from private plants to the central grid. I think it’s a good business model and other countries can follow the same model.

  7. Barbara Jorgensen
    October 15, 2012

    Hi Jacob: Green tech is one of the markets in the US that is supposed to create jobs, but right now I'd say most are still in R&D. Several solar panel/cell manufacturers went bankrupt this year and last and several others moved manufacturing offshore. Once the technology is well established, then there is expectation that infrastructre will be upgraded and additional jobs will be created. In particular, solar relies on construction and specilized installation in most places in the US. It is not happening fast enough, though, and in the meantime the US, at least, is looking for new sources of fossil fuel.

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