Global clean energy investment fell 22 percent to its lowest level in four years as a result of cutbacks in wind and solar subsidies, according to research compiled by Bloomberg.
Although $40.6 billion was invested in clean energy in the first three months of 2013, that was lower than any quarter since 2009 and compares with $52 billion in the same period last year, reports Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Wind and solar power manufacturers are suffering from declining prices: from Vestas Wind Systems, which has seen a contraction in the last year, to Suntech, which closed its only US manufacturing facility and declared bankruptcy in China.
Photovoltaic modules in March were 81 percent below the 2008 levels, according to Bloomberg. Although the low prices are good news for some such as solar retailer SolarCity, which is expanding to Nevada and benefits from the oversupply of cheap modules.
The Bloomberg research found that investment in renewables, energy efficiency and energy-smart technologies fell 54 percent in the US to $4.5 billion and fell 15 percent in China to $8.8 billion, while Europe saw a 25 percent drop to $13.4 billion compared to last year. Although Japan bucked the trend, rising to $8.2 billion.
While the wind Production Tax Credit in the US was ultimately extended, the delay caused a contraction in the industry. And in Eastern Europe, Bulgaria and Romania outlined plans to cut subsidy support for existing projects, reports Bloomberg. There were also cuts in solar incentives. According to a report by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, solar incentives have declined roughly 80 percent over the past decade.
According to Bloomberg, the largest decline in clean energy investment has been in asset finance, or equity, debt and balance sheet funds, for utility-scale projects such as wind and solar parks, which fell 34 percent to $19.3 billion. Japan is one place where alternative energy is seeing a surge in investment, likely due to the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami. Small-scale solar investment there more than doubled to $6.7 billion, reports the research agency.