Global clean power could attract $2.3 trillion by 2020

Posted: 8 December 2010

Private investments in G-20 clean power projects could total $2.3 trillion by the end of the decade, according to a report released today by The Pew Charitable Trusts. 

Massive energy demand and strong clean energy policies will drive investment to Asia, led by China and India. However, by adopting such policies, every G-20 member has the opportunity to attract more private investment in clean power projects and compete more effectively for business in this emerging global industry.

Seagen with cross arm fitted
Seagen with cross arm fitted at Harland & Wolf. Photo © Marine Current Turbines TM Ltd

Global Clean Power: A $2.3 Trillion Opportunity examined projected private investment in wind, solar, biomass/energy from waste, small hydro, geothermal and marine energy projects. The underlying data for this report were compiled by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the world’s leading provider of news, data and analysis on clean energy and carbon market finance and investment. The report modelled three policy scenarios to determine future growth through 2020: Business-as-usual: no change from current policies; Copenhagen: policies to implement the pledges made at the 2009 international climate negotiations in Copenhagen and; Enhanced clean energy: maximized policies designed to stimulate increased investment and capacity additions.

“The message of this report is clear: countries that want to maximize private investments, spur job creation, invigorate manufacturing and seize export opportunities should strengthen their clean energy policies,” said Phyllis Cuttino, director of the Pew Climate and Energy program.

The report found that the clean energy sector continues to be an immense economic opportunity. G-20 members have the potential to gain an additional $546 billion in clean power project investments over the next decade compared to Business-as-usual. Under the Enhanced clean energy scenario, the projected $2.3 trillion investment in clean power projects would be equivalent to adding the entire GDP of the United Kingdom to the global economy. Over that same time span, total renewable energy capacity additions in the G-20 are projected to reach 1,180 gigawatts, almost four times the amount of renewable energy capacity that exists today.

In the G-20, total attracted clean power project investment is projected to be:

  • Business-as-usual: $1.7 trillion by 2020
  • Copenhagen: $1.8 trillion by 2020
  • Enhanced clean energy: $2.3 trillion by 2020

Asia became the top regional destination for clean power finance this year – with China and India leading the way due to strong clean energy policies. By 2020, China, India, Japan and South Korea will account for approximately 40 per cent of global clean power project investments.

Wind farm, Maharashtra
Wind farm, Maharashtra. Photo © Down to Earth

“Strong and consistent policies in Asia have helped double private investment over the past two years. Asia is now the leading region for clean energy investment, and its lead is set to extend in the near future unless Europe and the US make a step change in their support for the sector,” said Michael Liebreich, CEO of Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Under all three scenarios, China maintains its global leadership position and has the potential to attract cumulative clean energy asset investments of $620 billion over the next decade. Due to its clean energy policies, India rockets up to third place by 2020 under all scenarios after being ranked 10th in 2009. India could realize a 763 per cent increase in investment under the enhanced scenario, the largest of all G-20 members.

Europe was an early leader in the global clean energy economy thanks to strong clean energy policies and targets. The report found investment in clean power projects in the European Union could total $705 billion over the next decade under the Enhanced clean energy scenario. The United Kingdom and Germany, traditional clean energy powers in Europe, rank in the top five globally of attracted clean power project investments under all three scenarios.

The report also found that the United States is among those countries with the most to gain from passing strong clean energy policies. For example, the U.S. has the potential to attract $342 billion in clean power project investments over the next 10 years under the Enhanced clean energy scenario. That would represent an additional $97 billion compared to attracted investment under Business-as-usual, a 40 per  cent increase in investment. Only India and the United Kingdom have the potential to increase investments at a higher rate.

Read the entire report, including other key findings, country profiles, and video here. And explore an interactive map of Global Clean Energy in 2009 .