2015 was also the highest ever for installation of renewable power capacity, with 64GW of wind and 57GW of solar PV commissioned during the year, an increase of nearly 30% over 2014.
London and New York, 14 January 2016 – Clean energy investment surged in China, Africa, the US, Latin America and India in 2015, driving the world total to its highest ever figure, of $329.3bn, up 4% from 2014's revised $315.9bn and beating the previous record, set in 2011 by 3%.
The latest figures from Bloomberg New Energy Finance show dollar investment globally growing in 2015 to nearly six times its 2004 total and a new record of one third of a trillion dollars (see chart on page 3), despite four influences that might have been expected to restrain it.
These were: further declines in the cost of solar photovoltaics, meaning that more capacity could be installed for the same price; the strength of the US currency, reducing the dollar value of non-dollar investment; the continued weakness of the European economy, formerly the powerhouse of renewable energy investment; and perhaps most significantly, the plunge in fossil fuel commodity prices.
Over the 18 months to the end of 2015, the price of Brent crude plunged 67% from $112.36 to $37.28 per barrel, international steam coal delivered to the north west Europe hub dropped 35% from $73.70 to $47.60 per tonne. Natural gas in the US fell 48% on the Henry Hub index from $4.42 to $2.31 per million British Thermal Units.
Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said: "These figures are a stunning riposte to all those who expected clean energy investment to stall on falling oil and gas prices. They highlight the improving cost-competitiveness of solar and wind power, driven in part by the move by many countries to reverse-auction new capacity rather than providing advantageous tariffs, a shift that has put producers under continuing price pressure.
"Wind and solar power are now being adopted in many developing countries as a natural and substantial part of the generation mix: they can be produced more cheaply than often high wholesale power prices; they reduce a country's exposure to expected future fossil fuel prices; and above all they can be built very quickly to meet unfulfilled demand for electricity. And it is very hard to see these trends going backwards, in the light of December’s Paris Climate Agreement."
Looking at the figures in detail, the biggest piece of the $329.3bn invested in clean energy in 2015 was asset finance of utility-scale projects such as wind farms, solar parks, biomass and waste-to-energy