Pew Report Finds Policy Uncertainty Stalled U.S. Clean Energy Sector In 2013


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 research released by The Pew Charitable Trusts. The annual report, using data compiled and reviewed by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, found that steep declines in the installation of wind overshadowed a record annual deployment of 4.4 GW of solar.

In the U.S. marketplace, solar technology prices have declined 60% since 2011, the report observes, and new financing models have spurred more than $17 billion in investment, a 7% increase from 2012. The U.S. continued to garner world-leading financing in the biofuels and energy-efficient/low-carbon technology subsectors, Pew says. It also remained the dominant recipient of public market and venture capital/private equity investment, attracting $6.8 billion and $2.2 billion, respectively.

‘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. ‘Wind, however, has been subject to the vagaries of U.S. energy policy. As Congress debates tax extenders, it should aim to level the playing field, accelerate clean energy deployment and provide long-term certainty to investors.’

Although wind investment was relatively stable at $14 billion, 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, Pew reports. When the production tax credit was renewed in early 2013, slight changes in the law precipitated deferrals in deployment of new wind capacity into this year, when a strong rebound in capacity additions is forecast.

By comparison, China deployed 12.1 GW of solar and 14.1 GW of wind capacity last year, the report says. 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% in 2013 to $254 billion. Investment in G-20 countries accounted for more than 95% of the global total. Renewable power generating capacity additions declined by 1%. Overall, installed clean energy capacity reached 735 GW.

The full Pew report can be downloaded here.

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