London/New York. Even as the COVID-19 pandemic tightens its grip over the world economy, new investment in renewable energy projects and companies totalled USD 174 billion in the first half of 2021, supported by record public market financing and record levels of venture capital and private equity commitments, according to the latest ‘Renewable Energy Investment Tracker’ from research company BloombergNEF (BNEF). This is the highest total ever recorded in the first half of any year, and 1.8% more than during the same time a year prior, although it is 7% below the high water mark set in the second half of 2020.
The latest data on renewable energy investment in the first half 2021, drawn from BNEF’s database of deals and projects, shows that a decline in investment in new renewables projects was offset by a jump in equity offerings of renewable energy companies.
The small increase shows the resilience of the industry leading the fight against climate change despite rising costs because of the surge in commodity prices this year. However, it’s way below what’s needed for nations and companies to reach their targets to limit emissions over the coming decades.
The first half of the year did see a decline in investment into new renewables projects, however. Investment into wind projects totalled USD 58 billion, matching levels recorded in 2018 and 2019, but well below the USD 85 billion invested in the first half of 2020 ahead of subsidies closing or lapsing in nations such as China and the US.
New equity raised on public markets hit a record high at USD 28.2 billion in the first half 2021, as did venture capital and private equity commitments to renewable energy companies at USD 5.7 billion. These were major contributors to the strong overall first half.
Albert Cheung, head of analysis at BloombergNEF said: “Renewable energy investment has withstood the effects of the global pandemic, in contrast to other sectors of the energy economy where we have seen unprecedented volatility. However, a 1.8% year-on-year increase is nothing to write home about. An immediate acceleration in funding is needed if we are to get on track for global net zero.”
Wind project investment in China, one of the world’s largest wind markets, was robust at USD 21 billion in the first half of 2021, showing developers are continuing to build projects without feed-in premiums. EMEA accounted for 36% of wind project investments. Europe had a strong first half, with Finland emerging as the top onshore market. RWE’s Sofia Offshore Wind Farm reached financial close as one of the cheapest projects in the UK, at USD 2.9 million per MW.
Investment in solar projects rose to a record USD 78.9 billion till June 2021. So-called ‘funds in circulation’, which includes the refinancing of renewable energy projects, mergers, acquisitions and buyouts, totalled USD 68.3 billion, up almost 18% from a year earlier. The first half saw the highest ever total for equity raised on public markets by clean energy companies, outpacing the volumes raised in any previous year.
Renewable energy and related companies raised a total of USD 28.2 billion on public markets in the first half, up 509% from 2020. Logan Goldie-Scot, head of clean power at BNEF, said: “As the energy transition accelerates, investors are increasingly looking for ways to increase their portfolio exposure to renewable energy and related areas, such as energy storage and hydrogen. This record first half for clean energy fundraising underlines the strength of appetite for sustainable investment opportunities aligned to a net zero future.”
The corporate mergers & acquisitions and private equity buyouts totalled USD 22.4 billion, up 25% on the previous year’s USD 17.9 billion. India outpaced the US and China, which were the leading markets of 2020.