Investment in renewable energy was at an all-time high in 2011 but is in danger of tapering off, according to a new report from the Frankfurt School – UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance. The report, titled Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2012, found that global investment in green energy had increased by 17% to a record-breaking $257 billion in 2011.
The United States increased its own investment dollars by 57%, helping it catch up to China in the race for biggest green energy investor. India, meanwhile, showed the greatest growth, with a 62% increase in investment, bringing them up to $12 billion.
Solar power has eclipsed wind energy in terms of investment dollars, with a total of $147 billion banked on the sun in 2011, up 52% over the previous year. Wind energy, by comparison, saw an investment of only $84 billion, down 12% from the previous year’s report, making 2011 the first time that solar energy outpaced wind energy by such a wide margin.
The 2012 report credits lower technology costs for the sudden boom, pointing out that the prices of photovoltaic modules fell by almost 50% and wind turbine prices went down by 5 to 10%. The study authors warn, however, that developed countries are starting to give green energy less policy support, ironically at a time when supply costs are at an all-time low, which could pose a threat to the continued growth of renewable power.