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Spending on clean energy projects may double by 2020

Spending on clean energy projects may double by 2020

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The latest projections are in -- and it's looking good. Find out the countries that will lead the world in annual spending on renewable energy projects and which technologies they're likely to turn to.

Last year, global spending on new renewable energy projects hit a record of $195 billion. According to the analysis folks over at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, annual spending on new clean energy projects will not only surpass that amount in the coming, but double it. By 2020, annual investments in adding clean energy capacity will reach $395 billion, driven largely by fast-paced growth in solar and offshore wind. Spending levels will grow to $460 billion by 2030, the group said in a report released today.

The upshot? Twenty years from now, 15.7 percent of total energy production will come from renewable energy sources, up from 12.6 percent last year.Keep in mind these figures includes large hydro projects.

A shift in the market

Meanwhile, where that money is spent will change, with Europe seeing its share of world investment shrink and China and India grabbing more.Europe will remain on the biggest markets for money spent on renewable energy projects for the next three years, according to New Energy Finance. But that share will dwindle as governments grappling with sovereign debt problems reduce support for clean energy.

The analysis forecasts growth in the European market will resume after 2015 in order to meet the EU 2020 renewable energy target. The developing economies of India, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America will have the most rapid growth with projected rates of 10 percent to 18 percent per year over the next decade. The United States and Canada won't see a slowdown in project construction. Together, their annual spending will hit $50 billion a year by 2020.  Perhaps not surprisingly, China will be the renewable energyasset  finance leader. In four years, China is projected to spend just under $50 billion on renewable energy projects.

Solar and offshore wind

Solar will have the second-fastest percentage growth -- only behind offshore wind -- from 51 gigawatts in 2010 to 1,137 GW by 2030. The continued steep reductions in cost will encourage increased spending in solar. An estimated $130 billion a year will be invested in adding solar capacity on average through 2030. That's a 51 percent increase from spending on solar projects in 2010.

Onshore and offshore wind will continue to expand and attract some $140 billion in 2020. European offshore wind will be a new area of growth as well as emerging markets in Australia, Turkey, Africa and Latin America.

Biomass, biofuels and waste-to-energy is projected to experience more than 470 percent of annual spending growth from $14 billion 2010 to $80 billion by the end of the decade, according to the report.

Photo: BrightSource Energy

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Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure