The US notched up a record clean-energy investment bonanza last year as $55.5bn flowed into sectors such as wind and solar under the renewables-sceptical presidency of Donald Trump, said research group BloombergNEF.
The steep US year-on-year growth of 28% came as offshore wind narrowly kept the global clean energy sector on an upward curve, with total worldwide investment at $282.2bn in 2019, a 1% increase.
The American growth was fueled by the dash by wind and solar developers to beat deadlines for the full value of federal incentives such as the wind production tax credit (PTC).
Ethan Zindler, head of Americas for BNEF, said: “It’s notable that in this third year of the Trump presidency, which has not been particularly supportive of renewables, US clean energy investment set a new record by a country mile.”
Trump has been a noted sceptic of the benefits of renewables before and since his election, with wind power a particular target for his scorn.
But BloombergNEF said wind and solar’s increasing competitiveness and the tax-credit deadlines had helped the US consolidate its position as the global clean-energy number-two behind leader China, which fell 8% to $83.4bn in 2019, its lowest level since 2013.
The research group said a late splurge in offshore wind financing last year was enough to keep global growth on track by a whisker. The offshore wind sector hit a record $29.9bn, up 19%, last year.
Among financings singled out by BloombergNEF were Neart na Gaoithe off Scotland ($3.4bn), Formosa 2 off Taiwan ($2bn) and the 500MW Fuzhou Changle C off China ($1.5bn). It also noted France’s first offshore wind projects to be financed, the 480MW, $2.5bn Saint Nazaire.
Tom Harries, head of wind research at BNEF, said: “Offshore wind developers in China brought forward 15 projects to beat a scheduled expiry of that country’s feed-in tariff. We expect the sector’s global momentum to continue in 2020, with the focus on gigawatt-scale projects in the British North Sea and the first commercial arrays off the US East Coast.”