For the first time in history, global investment in low-carbon energy technologies totalled $1.1 trillion, to draw levels with fossil fuels investment, according to a statement by BloombergNEF, a global strategic research service provider.
Defying supply chain disruptions and macroeconomic headwinds, 2022 energy transition investment jumped 31 percent from $849 billion in 2021, according to the statement.
The statement also said this came despite an uptick in spending on fossil fuels as many regions focused their attention on energy security, according to the research provider.
BNEF also makes a top-down estimate of global fossil fuel investments, including upstream, midstream, downstream and unabated fossil power generation.
According to the statement, this figure arrived at independently for the purpose of comparison, is estimated at $1.1 trillion in 2022 – the same figure as the energy transition investment total.
This marks the first time that global energy transition investment has matched fossil fuel investment, and comes despite fossil investment growth triggered by last year’s energy crisis, the statement said.
“It is a new record and a huge acceleration from the year before – as the energy crisis and policy action drove faster deployment of clean energy technologies,” the statement said.
Energy Transition Investment Trends is BNEF’s annual accounting of how much funding businesses, financial institutions, governments and end-users are committing to the low-carbon energy transition.
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“Almost every sector covered in the report achieved a new record level of investment in 2022, including renewable energy, energy storage, electrified transport, electrified heat, carbon capture and storage (CCS), hydrogen and sustainable materials. Only nuclear power investment did not set a record, staying broadly flat,” the statement said.
“Renewable energy, which includes wind, solar, biofuels and other renewables, remained the largest sector in investment terms, achieving a new record of $495 billion committed in 2022, up 17 percent from the year prior.”
However, electrified transport, which includes spending on electric vehicles and associated infrastructure, came close to overtaking renewables, with $466 billion spent in 2022 – an impressive 54 percent increase year-on-year.
The statement also said that Hydrogen is the sector that received the least financial commitment at just $1.1 billion in 2022 (0.1 percent of the total), despite strong interest from the private sector and growing policy support. Hydrogen is, however, the fastest-growing sector with investment more than tripling over the year before.
BNEF’s data show that China was by far the leading country for attracting energy transition investment, accounting for $546 billion or nearly half of the global total.
“The US was a distant second at $141 billion, while the EU would have been second if treated as a single bloc, at $180 billion. Germany retained its third place, while the UK dropped one place to fifth as France climbed to fourth,” it said.
“Our findings put to bed any debate about how the energy crisis will impact clean energy deployment,” said Albert Cheung, head of global analysis, BloombergNEF.
“Rather than slowing down, energy transition investment has surged to a new record as countries and businesses continue to execute on transition plans. Investment in clean energy technologies is on the brink of overtaking fossil fuel investments, and won’t look back.”
Cheung also said that these investments will drive short-term job creation and help to address medium-term energy security objectives. But much more investment is needed to get on track for net zero in the long term.
Despite 2022’s impressive results, global investment in lower-carbon technologies remains woefully short of what is needed to confront climate change, the statement said.
“For the world to get on a 2050 “net-zero” CO2 emissions trajectory, such investment must immediately triple,” BNEF estimates. Including the additional $274 billion invested in the power grid, energy transition investment hit $1.38 trillion in 2022.
“By comparison, the world must invest an annual average of $4.55 trillion for the remainder of this decade in order to get on track under BNEF’s Net Zero Scenario.”