Renewable energy sector hits record first-half for new investment

Investment

Global investment in renewable energy totaled $226 billion in the first half of 2022, setting a new record for the first six months of a year. The uptick in investment reflects an acceleration in demand for clean energy supplies to tackle the ongoing global energy and climate crises, according to ‘Renewable Energy Investment Tracker 2H 2022’, a new report published by research firm BloombergNEF (BNEF).

Investment in new large- and small-scale solar projects rose to a record-breaking $120 billion, up 33 per cent from the first half of 2021. Wind project financing was up 16 per cent from 1H 2021, at $84 billion. Both sectors have been challenged recently by rising input costs for key materials such as steel and polysilicon, as well as supply chain disruptions and rising financing costs. Yet, today’s figures indicate that investor appetite is stronger than ever, in part due to the very high energy prices currently being seen in many markets around the world.

The ‘Renewable Energy Investment Tracker’ summarises BloombergNEF’s tracking of global investment in renewable energy up to and including 1H 2022, and covers both project investments and corporate fundraising. As well as seeing booming project investments, the first half also saw an all-time record for venture capital and private equity investments into renewables and energy storage, with $9.6 billion raised – up 63 per cent on the previous year.

One category that saw falling investment was public equity issuances. After a very strong first half in 2021, public market issuances for renewable energy companies dropped 65 per cent in 1H 2022, totaling $10.5 billion. The 2Q figure, at $3.9 billion raised, is the lowest quarterly total since 2Q 2020.  

Albert Cheung, head of analysis at BloombergNEF, said: “Policy makers are increasingly recognising that renewable energy is the key to unlocking energy security goals and reducing dependence on volatile energy commodities. Despite the headwinds presented by ongoing cost inflation and supply chain challenges, demand for clean energy sources has never been higher, and we expect that the global energy crisis will continue to act as an accelerant for the clean energy transition.”

China posted remarkable investment growth in both wind and solar project finance. The country’s large-scale solar investments totaled $41 billion in 1H 2022, up 173 per cent from the year before. It also invested $58 billion in new wind projects, up 107 per cent year-on-year.

Nannan Kou, BNEF’s head of China analysis, said: “Green infrastructure is the most important investment area that China is relying on to boost its weak economy in the second half of 2022. The investment growth trend follows China’s strategy to build new renewable generation capacity so that it can replace its existing coal fleet. China is well on track to hit its 1,200 gigawatt wind and solar capacity target by 2030.”

Offshore wind was another sector that saw a stark increase, with investment up 52 per cent from the previous year, to $32 billion. Chelsea Jean-Michel, offshore wind analyst at BNEF said: “Investments in 2022 will flow into projects coming online in the next few years as the offshore wind installed base is set to grow tenfold from 53GW in 2021 to 504GW in 2035. Offshore wind projects enable companies and governments to make progress towards their decarbonization goals at scale. The United Kingdom, France and Germany are just a few of the countries that have increased their offshore wind targets in the first half of 2022, signaling further support for investment in the technology.”

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