Global clean-energy investments match fossil fuel for first time

New study from BNEF shows that 2022’s global investments in greener energy forms reached parity for the first time with money underwriting fossil fuels – at roughly USD 1.1trn.
Photo: Michael Probst/AP/Ritzau Scanpix
Photo: Michael Probst/AP/Ritzau Scanpix
by David R. Baker, Bloomberg News

For the first time, the world invested as much money into replacing fossil fuels as it spent on producing oil, gas and coal, according to an analysis from BloombergNEF.

Global investments in the clean energy transition hit USD 1.1trn in 2022, roughly equal to the amount invested in fossil fuel production, according to the research firm’s “Energy Transition Investment Trends 2023” report. Never before has the amount spent on switching to renewable power, electric cars and new energy sources like hydrogen topped USD 1trn.

While the amount represents a 31% jump from 2021, it’s still just a fraction of what’s needed to slash greenhouse gas emissions and fight global warming. BNEF estimates annual investments in the transition must triple for the rest of this decade to give the world a shot at reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. 

Solar and wind power accounted for the biggest chunk of 2022 investments, reaching USD 495bn, a 17% increase from the previous year. But electric vehicles came in close behind, with USD 466bn, and the amount invested in them worldwide is growing far faster, at 54%. Nearly half of all global energy transition investments — USD 546bn — were in China, while the US came in second at USD 141bn. (Had BNEF counted the European Union as a single entity, it would have ranked second, with USD 180bn.)

The USD 1.1trn covers money invested in deploying clean-energy technologies, according to BNEF. It does not include USD 274bn spent worldwide last year on expanding and strengthening power grids, USD 79bn invested in clean-energy supply chains and manufacturing or USD 119 bn in equity financing raised by clean-tech companies. Added together, the amount invested in the transition rises to about USD 1.6trn.

That clean power investments essentially tied those in fossil fuels is notable considering investments in those older, polluting energy sources rose in 2022. Driven by high fuel prices, worldwide investment in the sector climbed a substantial USD 214bn, according to BNEF. 

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