Renewable Energy Investment in Perspective

In 2013, gross investment in new renewable electric generating capacity (not including hydro >50 MW) amounted to USD 192 billioni, down from USD 234 billion in 2012 due to lower technology costs and policy uncertainty.3 This compares with gross investment in fossil fuel-based capacity of USD 270 billion, down from USD 309 billion in 2012. By this measure, the gap between renewable and fossil fuels increased slightly in 2013, with investment in renewable power capacity down 18% relative to 2012 and fossil fuels down nearly 13%.

However, much of the investment in fossil fuels went to replacing existing coal-, oil-, and gas-fired power stations, while only USD 102 billion went to establishing additional fossil fuel capacity. By contrast, almost all investment in renewable capacity is net, meaning that it adds to overall generating capacity. Considering only net investment in 2013, renewable power was ahead for the fourth consecutive year, with its USD 192 billion taking a wide lead over fossil fuels' estimated USD 102. Taking into account investment in hydropower projects >50 MW, global investment in renewable power capacity was well over twice the net investment in fossil fuel power capacity in 2013.

i - This number is for renewable power asset finance and small-scale projects. It differs from the overall total for renewable energy investment (USD 214.4 billion) provided elsewhere in this section because it excludes biofuels and types of non-capacity investment such as equity raising on public markets, and development R&D.

3 Note that these dollar amounts for capacity investment are based on BNEF estimates that some 81 GW of new capacity (not including hydropower >50 MW) was added in 2013, down from an estimated 88 GW in 2012. These numbers are not necessarily consistent with capacity data provided elsewhere in the GSR.