Clean-Energy Spending Drops 15% to Reach Lowest Level Since 2013

(Bloomberg) — Global investment in clean energy slumped 15
percent in the first quarter to the lowest level in two years
because of a decline in wind and utility-scale projects.

About $50.5 billion was invested in the first three months
of 2015, the least since the first quarter of 2013 when spending
on clean energy totaled $43.1 billion, according to research
released Friday by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The figure a
year earlier was $59.3 billion.

The rising U.S. dollar stifled spending, and nations that
previously spent big invested less, the London-based research
company said. The key question for clean energy was how much it
would be affected by slumping oil prices, and “these figures
indicate the answer is not so much,” Michael Liebreich,
chairman of the company’s advisory board, said in a statement.

Discounting the effects of currency variations and some
large offshore wind investments in 2014, clean-energy spending
“this year would have been pretty much level-pegging with last
year,” Liebreich said.

Investors, executives and policy makers will debate these
trends at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance conference in New
York starting Monday.

First-quarter spending in Europe dropped 30 percent to $9.7
billion from a year earlier. Investment fell 24 percent to $11
billion in China and tumbled 62 percent to $1.1 billion in
Brazil.

Early Data

“There’s sort of a natural effect effect that if you have
a strong year, it’s difficult the next year to go much above
that,” said Angus McCrone, a senior analyst at the research
company. “It’s too early to say it’s a meaningful fall in
investment that’s going to be continued through the year.”

Financing for utility-scale renewable energy projects fell
19 percent to $27.9 billion. Spending on solar power gained 7
percent to $31.8 billion while wind slumped 30 percent to $15.1
billion.

U.S. clean-energy investment edged up 2 percent to about
$9.6 billion. India saw gains of 59 percent to $1.6 billion as
the nation seeks to add 170 gigawatts of renewables by 2022.
Spending in South Africa was about $3.1 billion, compared with
“almost nothing” a year earlier, according to BNEF.

“South Africa has emerged as one of the most important
centers for clean-energy investment, as it seeks to expand power
capacity and take advantage of its sunshine and wind
resources,” said Luke Mills, a BNEF analyst.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Justin Doom in New York at
jdoom1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Reed Landberg at
landberg@bloomberg.net
Will Wade

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