Asian solar boom raises clean energy investment volumes in Q3 2014

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BNEF has released its latest report on Global Trends in Clean Energy Investment, which finds that strong Chinese and Japanese solar markets are supporting a rebound in clean energy investments during the third quarter of 2014.

China and Japan became the world’s two largest PV markets in 2013, and investment levels continue to grow. Chinese solar investment increased to US$12.2 billion during the quarter, a 63% increase over a year prior, and representing 22% of all clean energy investment during the quarter.

Despite China’s plans to move to a distributed PV market, investments were led by enormous project finance deals in both nations. This includes $1.1 billion raised for a 231 MW solar PV project in Japan, as well as $850 million for the second phase of the 530 MW Huanghe Hydropower hybrid hydro/PV plant in Western China.

Investments in U.S. PV are also growing, albeit unevenly in the nation’s utility-scale sector. BNEF estimates US$1.26 billion in financing was deployed for projects above 1 MW in the third quarter. This is a significant decline from the first two quarters, but more than double the third quarter of 2014.

Over the first three months, the company found another $8.56 invested in U.S. PV projects smaller than 1 MW, a higher volume than was invested in utility-scale solar and confirmation of a move to smaller projects.

Globally $15.9 million in project finance was deployed for projects larger than 1 MW during the third quarter, a 23% increase over a year prior. This is despite falling clean energy investments in many European nations including Germany and Italy, where policy changes have impacted solar markets.

BNEF does not provide quarterly figures for quarterly investment in PV projects smaller than 1 MW, but estimates $55.0 billion in small-scale distributed PV investments over the first three quarters of 2014.