U.S. Regains Lead in Investment in Renewables; China Takes Long-Term Approach


The Pew Charitable Trusts released a report last week analyzing the worldwide clean energy economy in 2011 with a particular focus on investment levels in G-20 countries.  The report is titled Who's Winning the Clean Energy Race? 2011 Edition and is based on data gathered by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a market research firm focused on renewable energy.  The report found that worldwide clean energy investment rose 6.5% in 2011 to a record $263 billion, resulting in the deployment of 83.5 gigawatts (GW) of new renewable energy capacity.

With a 42% increase in its investment in renewable energy, the U.S. regained the top spot with $48.1 billion of investment in 2011.  The U.S. ranked third in 2010 behind both China and Germany.  China was just behind the U.S. in 2011 with $45.5 billion of investment, only a 1% increase from the $45 billion invested in 2010.  However, the authors predict that China will soon retake the lead as a result of its long-term commitment to renewable energy compared to the short-term, variable nature of government incentives in the U.S.:

"The United States reclaimed the top spot in the worldwide clean energy race in 2011.  Because of policy uncertainty, however, its leadership is likely to be short-lived after a variety of American clean energy programs expired at the end of 2011.  Nothing appears likely to stem the long-term shift in the clean energy sector's center of gravity as investment swings from the West (Europe and the United States) to the East (Asia) and from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern."  (p.14)


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