Europe in the lead for the Green Energy Revolution

Money invested in renewable energy reached new heights last year, topping $257 billion. So is the world finally going green?

The figures come from The Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2012 report, a UN Environment Program backed study that has tracked the finance flowing into green energy across the world since 2004.

If found that renewables accounted for 44% of all new energy generation capacity added last year, up from 34% in 2010 and just 10.3% back in 2004.

The source for most of this finance came from the private sector, according to the report. Investment from the private domain in research and development of new technologies was almost double that of governments and public bodies.

While Europe attracts most of the investment, the renewable energy sectors of emerging economies such as India and China have been given the biggest boost.

China overtook the U.S. in terms of total annual investment in renewable energy in 2009 and attracted more money than any other country ($52.2 bn) in 2011.

India meanwhile saw the fastest expansion rate for any large renewables market last year, with a 62% increase in capital funding. But while investment in green energy has been on the rise it still lags far behind traditional fuel sources in terms of contribution to global power supplies. Only 6% of the world’s energy requirements (excluding large hydropower, like dams) were generated by renewable sources in 2011.

Nor have clean tech companies escaped the volatility of financial markets. The average share price of companies on the WilderHill New Energy Global Innovation Index fell by 40% in 2011, while austerity measures in many developed countries have weakened the policies set up to encourage renewable energy investment.

CNN asked two experts in the field about the trends shaping the figures from the report and what it might mean for the future.

To read the interview:

Source: CNN