Help WRI turn ideas into action all over the world.

You are here

The Real Story Behind Falling Renewable Energy Investments

Investors worldwide spent less on renewable energy and related technologies—such as smart meters, electric vehicles, and storage—last year than in previous years. Global investments in renewable energy fell to $214 billion, down 14 percent from 2012. Venture capital investments in U.S.-based clean-tech companies fell 25 percent in 2013, according to Clean Edge’s latest report. And for the first time in a decade, China saw a decline in clean energy investment in 2013.

These isolated numbers make it appear as if the clean tech sector is on the decline. But take a deeper dive and it’s clear that there’s a much more complex story at play. In reality, renewable energy is on a strong growth path—and tools are emerging to push the sector even further.

Falling Renewable Energy Investments Actually Signal Progress

The recent fall in clean tech investments is partly driven by the fact that renewable energy has become much cheaper in the past few years. You can buy more energy output for less cash than you could have two or four years ago. At the 2014 Future of Energy Summit earlier this month, Michael Liebreich, founder of Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), said that roughly 80 percent of the reduced investment in clean energy over the last two years is due to these price reductions. Solar module prices, for example, have declined by about 80 percent since 2008. Increased competition among wind energy suppliers has also reduced prices. Research from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) finds that wind energy prices could drop from 10-30 percent further in the medium to long-term.

With the costs dropping substantially, growth in clean energy capacity remains at record highs. This is in spite of economic and policy turbulence in many countries. The United States, China, and Japan in particular have been moving aggressively with solar photovoltaic (PV) installations. China installed a whopping 12 gigawatts (GW) of solar capacity—nearly triple the 4.5 GW deployed the year before. And the world’s total installed wind energy capacity grew by about 19 percent in 2012, followed by another 12.4 percent increase in 2013.

In short, the renewable energy industry is maturing—and investors are starting to take notice. Investors like Citigroup are becoming more optimistic in the industry, claiming that the “age of renewables” has begun. “Green bonds”—which direct investment towards environmentally friendly projects—are becoming more and more popular. Energy-smart technology firms, including Opower, are marching into the stock market. These are all indicators that renewables are stepping onto the mainstream financial scene.

A Coalition of Renewable Energy Interpreters

The scale and impacts of declining renewable energy costs is not widely understood. This is an example of how real industry trends can be hidden by the headlines. Admittedly, the rapidly changing renewable energy industry can be difficult to keep up with. Decision-makers need both insightful analysis and proactive communication channels to help them understand what’s really going on with renewable energy development—and push this sector further faster.

Several organizations are starting to realize the importance of making sure that facts about renewable energy are fully examined, explained, and widely shared. For example, WRI recently joined with IRENA, IEA-RETP, Greenpeace, ACORE, WWF International and 36 leading renewable energy players to establish a “Coalition for Action to Bolster Public Support for Renewable Energy.” This Coalition, which includes think tanks, environmental NGOs, and leading renewable energy companies, will provide fact-based information to address questions and concerns about renewable energy technologies and help support the growth of the industry worldwide. The Coalition will host a knowledge platform to share the latest news, information, lessons, and training opportunities in the renewable energy sector.

As part of the coalition, WRI is producing evidence-based research, fact sheets, and tools on renewable energy through its Charge initiative. For example, our 10 Questions to Ask about Scaling On-Grid Renewable Energy paper raises the key questions decision makers need to answer in order to create a stable policy environment that will support the growth of grid-based renewable energy. Our Above and Beyond paper explores how utilities can use “green tariffs” to provide cost-competitive renewable energy to corporate customers. And forthcoming factsheets will help decision makers makes sense of the electricity cost data they encounter.

The Charge initiative at WRI and the IRENA Coalition can start to clear up some of the confusion surrounding renewable energy costs. However, truly moving toward a world where all communities have access to affordable, clean energy will require a greater effort. Decision-makers from government, business, and the electricity sector will need to use all tools at their disposal to look past the headlines and capitalize on the emerging opportunities presented by a rapidly changing renewable sector.

LEARN MORE: Check out our portfolio of 40 publications and learn how WRI helps power development through affordable, sustainable electricity.

Comments

Hydro Nano Gas could be the Answer for Neutralizing Carbon Fuel Emissions
Hydro Infra Technologies (HIT), a Swedish clean tech company based in Stockholm, has developed an innovative patent pending approach for neutralizing carbon fuel emissions by generating a novel gas called Hydro Nano Gas (HNG).

In spite of all the advancement happening in the energy sector, global economies are still dependent on fossil fuels as the interlinked chain of costs to completely replace the burning of fossil fuels with more clean and sustainable options is beyond the financial resources of even the richest nations.
This in turn effects the climate change scenario which has been continuously increasing as more pollution and green house gases are created from burning fossil fuels on a daily basis.

This dilemma requires a new approach with safe, cost effective and smart solutions; the solution in sight? Making any fossil fuel climate neutral – and this is exactly what HIT’s Hydro Nano Gas proposes to do.

Water contains 2 basic elements, Hydrogen and Oxygen. These 2 basic elements can be split, divided and utilized. Splitting water (H2O) is a known science. But the energy costs to perform splitting outweigh the energy created from hydrogen when the Hydrogen is split from the water molecule H2O. This is where mainstream science usually closes the book on the subject.

HIT took a different approach by postulating that it was not only possible but indefinitely sustainable to split water in an energy efficient way to extract a high yield of Hydrogen at very low cost.
The process of creating HNG involves pulsing an range of low energy frequencies in a very specific sequence into water. The pulsing treatment effectively manipulates the molecules to line up in a certain structure which are then put through a splitting process. The result is HNG.

Being exotic as it is, HNG displays some very different properties from normal hydrogen. For instance: HNG instantly neutralizes carbon fuel pollution emissions; HNG can be pressurized up to 2 bars; HNG combusts at a rate of 9000 meters per second while normal Hydrogen combusts at a rate 600 meters per second; oxygen values actually increase when HNG is inserted into a diesel flame; and finally, HNG acts like a vortex on fossil fuel emissions causing the flame to be pulled into the centre thus concentrating the heat and combustion properties.

Injecting HNG into a combustion chamber produces several effects that increase the burn efficiency of the fuels. HNG gasification effectively burns unburned residue/cluster while completing the burn process quicker. The long term impact of using HNG in the burning of fossil fuels can provide the balanced solution for the on going economic-climate change debate.

The new technology is also found to be effective in the treatment of polluted water; when HNG Nano bubbles are injected into polluted water, a microbe chain reaction is initiated that rapidly triggers and boosts the waters’ own organic repairing process. While further testing and validation are required, the discovery creates new potential in providing solutions to critical areas of global pollution.

HIT is also developing a Smoke Eliminator for all sorts of plants and facilities. The process reduces the need for smoke analysis as it results in a clean wet scrubber technology where CO2 becomes a clean by-product ready to be reused.

Further, a miniaturized version of the standard HNG reactor will help HIT achieve its goal of gassing 9,000 cubic meters of smoke volume per second. Using Nano technology, the reactor will see the beginning of a new technology phase for each HNG application, reports HIT.

The HIT innovation story begins in the 1980’s when a small team of dedicated technicians, researchers and engineers came together to innovate real world solutions based on the theoretical research conducted by Nobel prize winner Professor Yuan Tse Lee. The goal was clear - to ‘crack’ the Hydrogen code.

In late 2012, after years of on / off research and experimentation, they finally cracked the code and HNG was born.
HIT was formed to spread their discoveries to the world as Information Technology via joint venture partners.
HIT has also selected SGS – the worlds leading testing/validation and certification company – to be its’ permanent testing-validation protocol partner, providing certification that enables HIT to expand into global markets.
Read more about HIT: www.hydroinfra.com

Add new comment

Stay Connected

Sign up for our newsletters

Get our latest commentary, upcoming events, publications, maps and data. Sign up for the weekly WRI Digest.