With Beijing suffering its worst levels of air pollution on record, news that China was the world’s biggest investor in clean energy in 2012 may offer a ray of hope—hopefully one that can cut through the thickening smog. As reported at SmartPlanet, a year-end study by Bloomberg New Energy Finance shows that Chinese investment in clean energy reached $67.7 billion in 2012, up 20 percent from 2011. Meanwhile, global investment in clean energy fell 11 percent, to $268.7 billion. Still, overall clean energy investment in 2012 was the second-highest ever—somewhat of a surprise, said BNEF CEO Michael Liebreich, considering lingering policy uncertainty, the European fiscal crisis, and declining technology costs.
Clean energy investment also spread to new markets, expanding from Europe and North America to reach markets in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Asia. South Africa’s investment jumped from tens of millions in 2011 to $5.5 billion in 2012. Solar continued as the dominant sector, totaling $142.5 billion in investment worldwide in 2012, while wind energy saw investments of $78.3 billion, a 13 percent decline. Continued extreme weather events, and extremely bad air, may spur governments to enact clearer policies and spur higher levels of investment in 2013.