US Leading G-20 Countries in Green Tech Investing – For Now

The Pew Charitable Trusts most recent report from their Environment Group on green technology investments by G-20 country is now available at their site:  Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race.  The report is updated annually and presents funding trends for the Group of Twenty with the US surpassing China (the leader for the last 3 years).  Funding was strong domestically (up 42%) and up overall globally by 6.5%.  China remained level, several European countries declined, but this was offset by significant growth in India, Japan and Indonesia. 

From the report’s introduction:   Our research demonstrates that clean energy investment continued a near-decade-long rally in 2011, rising 6.5 percent to a record $263 billion.2 Excluding research and development, investment in the sector is more than 600 percent higher than in 2004. The G-20 member countries continue to dominate the sector, accounting for 95 percent of all global investments in clean energy. Future growth is anticipated in the emerging markets of developing nations, however. Annual investment growth rates of 10 to 18 percent are projected for parts of Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America in the next 10 years.

Renewable energy generating capacity increased 83 GW with solar (30 GW) and wind (43 GW) leading the way.  Solar deployments are accelerating while wind deployments were off from prior year records.  Global clean energy generating capacity is now 565 GW.  95% of the investment in new production capacity comes from the G-20. 

Some commenters quibble with the notion of presenting the information as a ‘race’ for leadership in investment but the bottom line is this a report card of key investment decisions taken by key actors to address the need for local, efficient renewable energy production.  The report is a useful compendium on investment trends by G-20 states and regions.   Europe, the Middle East and Africa as a region still outpaces Asia and the Americas by a wide margin.  And the report does a good job with highlighting specific regions or states that have committed significant portions of their GDP to clean energy projects.

For the US, a signficant part of the financing during the last 2 years was stimulus funding which is unlikely to replaced by the private sector or further government investment.  So the report suggests that the US will not be able to hold onto the top spot for long.  In investment intensity (Clean Energy Investment per $ GDP) in the US lags 7 other states.  The US is not within the top 10 for 5 year growth rates for investment, and is 10th out 10 in 5-yr growth rate of renewable capacity.  

 Overall the report is a useful indicator of countries and regions commitment to clean energy capacity development and shows a significant investments on the parts of these states to their clean energy future.  Whether the US wins the race or not is secondary to the global economic leader’s dedication and efforts to create efficient, reliable, renewable energy.  This alone makes the report worthy of your time and consideration.

The full report can be downloaded here:  Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race (3.5 Mb download).