Damned Lies and Statistics

(credit: Lovestats)

(credit: Lovestats)

The beginning of a new year always sees a flood of statistics rounding up the previous year’s investment levels and progress towards milestones.  Interestingly, the end of 2013 has signalled that the metrics we use for evaluating the scale and pace of investment in clean energy are changing.

For instance: according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (link), the total investment in 2013 in clean energy was $254 billion.  This is 11% down on last year’s figure, which Bloomberg then characterised as “casting a shadow” over calls for a further trillion dollars of investment in 2014.

This is lazy journalism at its best – the “shadow” is a false one, but you’d only know that if you read further down the piece.

In fact, as the prices of modules and installation fall, that 11% fall is in fact buying more energy than ever before.  If you go by how much capacity has been added in 2013 instead of how expensive that capacity was, volumes were in fact up 20%.

For an apples to apples comparison, you have to consider how much that $254 billion would have got you with the prices from 5 years ago – according to the CEO of BNEF the equivalent figure is more likely to have been $500 billion to purchase that same volume of energy.  Perhaps feeling guilty about their doom and gloom characterisation of the 2013 figures, BNEF’s director of content Nathanial Bullard posted an excellent short video explaining what is causing the apparent reduction in investment and the changing focus of clean energy investment: http://about.bnef.com/video/bnefs-bullard-on-2013-global-investment-figures/

Categories: Economic Indicators

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