Europe, China beat the US as top clean energy deal-makers

Clare Saxon Ghauri
18 January 2013

BRUSSELS: Europe arranged more loans for clean energy projects than the US last year, and China overtook the US to become the world's biggest clean energy investor, as revealed today in Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s annual league table results.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) today released its 2012 Clean Energy and EST League Tables. The annual analysis identifies the most active and innovative investors in clean energy sectors including smart grids, energy efficiency, electric vehicles and carbon capture and storage.

Big investors

While total investment dropped 11% to US$268.7 billion for industry segments including wind, solar and biomass power generation, China overtook the US to become the world’s biggest clean energy investor last year.

China's investment rose 20% to a record US$68 billion, driven largely by solar. China now makes up a quarter of global clean energy investment, which stands at US$269 billion, and the nation's investment is more than 50% of the US's, which ranked second. Dipping as much as 32% on 2011's clean energy investment, the US totalled US$44 billion. 

Clean energy investments also increased in South Africa and Japan.

Michael Liebreich, Chief Executive, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said: “This is the eighth year we have prepared annual league tables showing the most active deal-makers in the sector. The transactions in 2012 that helped to produce winners this time included everything from a US$1 billion-plus offshore wind financing, to a US$701 million energy storage acquisition, to an US$18 million venture capital investment in a solid-state lighting technology developer.”

He added: “Indeed, the most striking aspect of these figures is that the decline was not bigger – given the fierce headwinds the clean energy sector faced in 2012 as a result of policy uncertainty, the ongoing European fiscal crisis, and continuing sharp falls in technology costs. Solar PV module prices, for instance, fell another 24% over the course of last year.” 

Europe top deal-maker

While overall investment from Europe was down, Europe’s development bank, the European Investment Bank (EIB) was named Top Lead Arranger in the tables. EIB loaned a total of $2.2 billion to the clean energy industry in 2012, helping rank Europe as one of the world's biggest clean energy investors, beating US Government funding.

EIB’s investments were spread over 18 deals which include a US$663 million loan for a wind farm in Germany owned by EnBW Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg.

Commenting on the German wind farm, Wilhelm Molterer, Vice President, European Investment Bank, said: “Demanding projects are required so that Germany can implement its ambitious energy aims. EnBW Baltic 2 sets standards. It will be exemplary for future projects of this magnitude. With the financing that has now been agreed, it will be possible to implement the extensive project quickly and make a decisive contribution to the success of the energy transition.”

This top investment sum comes one week after the announcement that EIB’s shareholders and its 27 European Union member states had approved a €10 billion capital increase focusing on four areas, including clean energy.

Among the leading deal-makers, member of The Climate Group, Goldman Sachs (United States) was also awarded Top Public Markets Lead Manager.

Damian Ryan, Senior Policy Manager, The Climate Group commented: “Europe’s better performance in stimulating clean energy investment last year has a lot to do with policy certainty – or rather the lack of it in the US. The delayed renewal of the Production Tax Credit for wind power created havoc in the industry last year. If the US is serious about developing large scale, clean energy infrastructure it needs to move beyond stop-start measures to providing long, loud and legal investment frameworks.”

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By Clare Saxon

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