Cloudy Outlook

Clean energy investment drops in first quarter

Maybe it’s just the Jim Cramer Effect. Two years ago, the demonstrative investment specialist and star of CNBC’s “Mad Money” offered suggestions for cautious investment in businesses within the renewable energy world. While recommending companies like First Solar and NRG, he highlighted the temperament and unpredictability of the clean energy market in the interview with The Street’s Rhonda Shaffler below:

Frantic as he looks, Cramer may have also been prophetic in this instance. Clean-energy investment fell 17 percent in the first quarter of 2017, keeping pace with the overall decline of the previous year, with both the U.S. and China receding financial support for wind and solar projects.

$53.6 billion was invested into projects such as renewable energy, efficiency and electric cars during the first quarter of 2017. This marked the lowest investment for the quarter since 2013, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). A surge in financing for large offshore wind projects at the start of last year wasn’t repeated in 2017.

The overall decline in investment reflects the falling cost of capital for renewables, which allows investors to install the same power generation capacity for less cash. Renewables were the biggest new source of electricity last year even as investment fell to $287.5 billion from a record $348.5 billion the year before, BNEF said Tuesday.

Offshore wind financing, sometimes touted as the future of wind energy, fell by 60 percent to $4.6 billion from $11.5 billion a year ago. The U.K., the world’s biggest offshore wind farm installer, had no new financing in the first three months of the year.

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