The U.S. clean energy sector continues to be buffeted by policy uncertainty, with 2013 investment down 9% from 2012 to $36.7 billion, according to a new report from The Pew Charitable Trusts. The report finds that steep declines in the installation of wind overshadowed a record annual deployment of 4.4 GW of solar.
‘Lower technology prices have made the small-distributed solar market very competitive, and the United States has been a leader in developing innovative financing models that are spurring steadily increasing deployment,’ says Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew's clean energy program. ‘We also remain a world leader in venture capital, biofuels and energy-smart technologies, like smart meters and LED lighting. Wind, however, has been subject to the vagaries of U.S. energy policy."
Although wind investment was relatively stable at $14 billion, Pew says U.S. wind installations in 2013 were down more than 90% – from more than 13 GW in 2012 to less than 1 GW last year. When the production tax credit was renewed in early 2013, slight changes in the law precipitated deferrals in deployment of new wind capacity into 2014, when a strong rebound in capacity additions was forecast. By comparison, the report says China deployed 12.1 GW of solar and 14.1 GW of wind capacity.
Meanwhile, the report says solar technology prices in the U.S. marketplace have declined 60% since 2011, and new financing models have spurred more than $17 billion in investment, a 7% increase from 2012. The U.S. continued to garner financing in the biofuels and energy efficient/low-carbon technology subsectors. It also remained the dominant recipient of public market and venture capital/private equity investment, attracting $6.8 billion and $2.2 billion, respectively.
According to the report, China remained the leading regional and global market, attracting $54.2 billion, with the U.S. in second place. Japan was third, with $28.6 billion. Globally, clean energy investment fell 11%, to $254 billion, and renewable power generating capacity additions declined by 1% in 2013. Overall, installed clean energy capacity reached 735 GW.