Clean Energy Records Shattered in 2011: $53 Billion in New Deals, $260 Billion in Investment

langalex via Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Business continues to boom in the global clean energy sector: Reuters reports that deals in the solar, wind, and energy efficiency industries netted a record $53.5 billion last year. That's a rather significant 40% from 2010, according to the analysis from PriceWaterHouse Coopers.

And what's more, total investment in renewable energy broke the record, too: $260 billion was directed to the burgeoning business of clean power. Even more encouraging was the fact that hydro power, which is typically the primary driver in renewable energy portfolio growth, took a deep back seat to wind, solar, and energy efficiency.

Here's Reuters:

Historically, hydro power has dominated renewables deal flow, but deals worth $1 billion or more in wind, solar, biomass and energy efficiency have outnumbered hydro by seven to one, the PriceWaterHouse Coopers report said. The renewables market is maturing, fuelling more consolidation ...

"Sustained high deal numbers and record total value reflect a maturing of the sector," said Paul Nillesen, PwC renewables partner. "The trend is all the more noteworthy given the uncertainty in the market and in government policies on renewables. We believe that deal flow will continue to be significant in the medium term."

Deals in the solar and efficiency sectors accounted for 79% of the $15 billion spike from last year, due to cheaper PV and the fact that investing in efficiency is a good idea no matter the circumstance or political climate.

But Nillesen is right: This is remarkable, given that the Eurozone, the biggest economy that generally has strong renewable-friendly policies (other than China), was racked with financial crises last year, and the investment climate was uncertain at best.

And here in the United States, one of our two major political parties was united in its opposition to clean energy policy, and calling for an end to tax breaks and federal support for renewables. The GOP tried to paint cleantech as a failed liberal fairytale, and attempted to manufacture a scandal-tinged referendum out of Solyndra's bankruptcy. Even though they failed to do so—the public is still overwhelmingly gung-ho about cleantech—it didn't exactly make an encouraging backdrop for companies to cut deals in the clean energy sector.

Which is why it is indeed "noteworthy" that clean energy investment continues to boom, and that ever-larger deals are being made—the technologies are improving, social demand for more clean power is rising, and, sure, sizable profits are imminent. And that's why investment continues to boom, despite economic turmoil and lagging policy guidance in big markets like the United States—the smart money knows the heyday of clean power is drawing nearer.

Tags: Clean Energy | Renewable Energy

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