Global investment in clean energy grew 16 percent last year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).
In 2014, countries around the world poured a total of $310 billion into wind, solar and other renewables, as well as biofuels and low-carbon energy technology. This is the first global increase in clean energy investment since 2011, Bloomberg reports.
This news is especially heartening to the clean energy industry, which feared that oil’s recent drop to $50/bbl would spoil investors on committing to new energies. According to Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board of BNEF, investments in renewables were largely unaffected by the drop in oil due to its slide coming towards the end of 2014.
“Healthy investment in clean energy may surprise some commentators, who have been predicting trouble for renewables as a result of the oil price collapse,” said Liebreich in a BNEF press release. “Our answer is that 2014 was too early to see any noticeable effect on investment. The impact of cheaper crude will be felt much more in road transport than in electricity generation.”
A major boost to renewable funding came from China, which increased its clean energy commitment by 32 percent last year. Though still the planet’s number one polluter, China has made major strides in revising its emissions and energy policies. In early 2014, Prime Minister Li Keqiang declared a “war against pollution,” promising to “fight it with the same determination we battled poverty.” With $54 billion invested in renewables in 2013 alone, China currently leads the world in clean energy investment.
Funds also poured into the electric vehicle market. Tesla Motors, which received a significant portion of EV funding, will soon be releasing an improved version of their Roadster model, which can allegedly travel 400 miles on a single charge.
Offshore wind also saw a major surge of investment last year – a record $19.4 billion globally. Investment in wind power overall grew 11 percent to $99.5 billion. In Europe, Germany, Denmark and the United Kingdom all broke records for wind generation. Denmark has set the goal for itself of generating 70 percent of its power from renewables by 2020. Scotland, meanwhile, has the potential to generate 100 percent of its electricity from wind by 2020 and become completely fossil fuel-free by 2030.
Even in the United States, where energy policy is gridlocked at the federal level by policymakers with strong ties to conventional fuels, renewable investments increased by eight percent to $51.8 billion – the highest increase in clean energy investment since 2012.