Investment by Technology

Solar power was again the leading sector by far in terms of money committed during 2013, accounting for USD 113.7 billion, or 53% of total new investment in renewable power and fuels (not including hydro >50 MW). Wind power followed with USD 80.1 billion, about level with investment in 2012 and accounting for more than 37% of total investment. The remaining 10% was made up of biomass and waste-to-energyi power (USD 8 billion), small-scale hydropower (<50 MW) (USD 5.1 billion), biofuels (USD 4.9 billion), geothermal power (USD 2.5 billion), and ocean energy (USD 0.1 billion). Investment declined relative to 2012 in all renewable technology sectors tracked by BNEF, with the lone exception being geothermal power, which saw a 38% increase. (See Figure 25.)

As in 2012, about 90% of all solar power investment went to solar PV (USD 102.3 billion), with the remaining share going to CSP. Solar power saw one of the largest declines in 2013, with investment dollars falling 20% below 2012 levels. Most of the decline, however, was attributable to reductions in installed costs of solar PV systems.

Bioenergy accounted for a larger share of total renewables investment in past years, representing 29% of investment in 2007. By contrast, in 2013 it made up only 6%, with biomass and waste-to-energy seeing their lowest investment level since 2005, and biofuels the lowest since 2004.

Developing economies continued to represent the majority of investments made in wind power and small-scale hydropower, whereas developed countries outweighed them in all other technologies. This was despite the fact that solar investment was down 21% in developed economies and up significantly in China, the second largest solar power investor after Japan.

i - Includes all waste-to-power technologies, but not waste-to-gas.

The top investors in wind power were China, followed distantly by the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, and India. The smaller technologies showed contrasting trends, with investment in biomass, small-scale hydro, and geothermal power up in developed economies but down significantly in developing countries, and biofuels down everywhere.

Detailed statistics are not available for large hydropower projects over 50 MW in size, although they represent the third most important sector for renewable energy investment after solar and wind power. Translating hydropower capacity additions into asset finance dollars per year is not straightforward because the average project takes four years to build. However, BNEF estimates that asset financing for large-scale hydro projects commissioned in 2013 totalled at least USD 35 billion—more than a quarter of the USD 133.4 billion value of asset finance excluding large-scale hydro. Considering hydropower data provided by the industry and reported elsewhere in this GSR, investment in hydropower >50 MW may have been considerably higher.2

2 The BNEF estimate for investment in large hydropower(>50 MW) is based on at least 20 GW of capacity commissioned during 2013 and a capital cost per MW of USD 1.75 million, bringing the total investment in large hydropowerto USD 35 billion. The figure USD 1.75 billion per GW is the average value based on numbers provided by developers of large hydro projects in applications for the Clean Development Mechanism. Estimates are approximate only, due greatly to the fact that timing of the investment decision on a project may be about four years on average away from the moment of commissioning. As a result, a large share of the investment total for the projects commissioned in 2013 was actually invested in prior years; in addition, there was investment during 2013 for projects that are currently under construction and are not included in the BNEF estimates. Note that data for hydropower projects larger than 50 MW differ somewhat between this GSR and the Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2014 due to different methodologies and data sources. This GSR estimates that about 40 GW of total hydropower capacity was commissioned worldwide during 2013, and a significant portion of this was projects larger than 50 MW(see Hydropower section in this report), whereas BNEF estimates that at least 24 GW of hydro capacity was commissioned in 2013, including more than 20 GW of large projects (>50 MW). Taking the BNEF estimate that 4 GW hydropower capacity <50 M W was added, that means as much as 36 GW of capacity >50 MW was added during 2013.