February 12, 2021: Energy spending broke records last year driven by Europe, with an unprecedented $500 billion recorded by the news agency BloombergNEF as being funnelled into renewables, storage and electric heat globally.
BNEF says in total, the world committed $501.3 billion to ‘energy transition investment’ in 2020, an increase on 2019 of 9% — and this in a year chronically disrupted by the pandemic.
But not all regions saw an increase: while Europe recorded a 67% increase in spending of $166.2 billion, China was down 12% on the previous year at $134.8 billion, and the US came in third at $85.3 billion, down 11%.
“Europe’s impressive performance was driven by a record year for electric vehicle sales, and the best year in renewable energy investment since 2012,” the agency said.
2020 was ‘the biggest ever build-out of solar projects and a $50 billion surge for offshore wind’, with renewable energy capacity clocking up $303.5 billion from companies, governments and households, and $139 billion going on electric vehicles and charging infrastructure. This was a new record itself, up 28%.
The battery storage technology sector received a $3.6 billion boost, level with 2019 despite the cost of batteries actually falling — so in real terms, an increase.
It shows a global commitment to decarbonize the energy system, says head of analysis Albert Cheung at BNEF.
“Clean power generation and electric transport are seeing heavy inflows, but need to see further increases in spending as costs fall,” he said.
“Technologies such as electric heat, carbon capture and hydrogen are only attracting a fraction of the investment they will need in the 2020s to help bring emissions under control.
“We need to be talking about trillions per year if we are to meet climate goals.”