Clean Energy Investment in Q3 Hits US$70 Billion, NEF Data Shows

The Americas region led the way to US$70 billion in global investment in clean energy technologies the third quarter of 2015, according to the latest data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

The global figure is 1% below the equivalent figure a year earlier The largest projects to be financed in Q3 this year included solar thermal electricity generation, or CSP, plants in China, Israel and South Africa, and four offshore wind farms in Chinese waters – the first real wave of sea-based wind projects to get the go-ahead outside that technology’s original market, Europe.

However, the countries enjoying the biggest-percentage gains in investment in the third quarter of 2015 compared to Q3 2014 were mostly in the Americas. Brazil saw investment jump 131% on a year earlier to US$2.3bn, thanks to a rush of wind project financings, while Chile leapt from US$180m in Q3 2014 to US$1.6bn in the latest quarter, and the US enjoyed a 25% surge in investment to US$13.4bn.

“Investment in the first three quarters of this year has been US$197.9bn, just US$4.3bn down on the same period of 2014 – a resilient performance given the sizeable shifts in foreign exchange rates that will have reduced the dollar value of projects outside the US,” said Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

“Part of the explanation is the ongoing improvement in cost-effectiveness of solar and wind relative to fossil fuel generation. That is enabling those renewable energy technologies to attract a big share of power sector investment everywhere from China and Japan to Latin America and South Africa.”

The detail of Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s data shows that asset finance of utility-scale renewable energy projects totalled US$47.3bn in the third quarter, down 4% on the same quarter of 2014, but spending on small-scale projects, such as rooftop solar, increased 21% to US$19bn.

Among the big utility-scale projects funded were the Qinghai solar thermal plant in China, at US$866 million for 200 megawatt, the Longyuan Haian Jiangjiasha offshore wind farm, also in China, at US$856m for 300MW, and the SolarReserve Redstone solar thermal complex in South Africa, at US$749m for 100MW.

Investment in specialist clean energy companies by venture capital and private equity funds shot up 92% in Q3 this year to US$2bn, helped by a US$500m VC round for Chinese electric vehicle company NextEV and a US$150m financing for View, the California-based electronically tinting window technology developer.

Public markets, meanwhile, invested US$3.7bn in clean energy companies in Q3, down 38% compared to the same quarter in 2014. The biggest equity-raisings were a US$750m issue by Tesla Motors, the electric car maker, and a US$675m initial public offering by TerraForm Global, a US-based “yieldco” owning renewable energy assets in emerging markets.

Breaking the figures down by region, China was once again the largest centre for investment, at US$26.7bn in Q3, some 5% up on the same period a year earlier. The US was second, at US$13.4bn, boosted by financial close for a succession of solar and wind projects worth several hundred million dollars each.

Asia-Pacific outside India and China was the third biggest region, at US$11.4bn, down 1% on Q3 2014. However, Europe saw investment of just US$5.8bn in the latest three months, down 48% from the third quarter of last year and its weakest performance since Q4 2004.

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