May 30, 2023, 1:31pm EDT
North America

Clean energy installations in the US fell even as global green energy investment reached a record in 2022

Windwärts Energie GmbH

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Clean-energy installations in the U.S. fell in 2022 for the first time in five years despite global renewable energy investment reaching a record $495 billion last year.

Meanwhile investment in solar energy is expected to outstrip that in oil for the first time this year, largely driven by the solar boom in China, the world’s leading investor in green energy.

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Despite the economic incentives offered by the Inflation Reduction Act, clean-energy installations in the U.S. fell by nearly 20% last year, according to American Clean Power, compared to 2021. Supply-chain bottlenecks and long-running permitting and interconnection issues were the main drivers. Renewables, however, were still the country’s dominant source of new power.

Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency (IEA) expects global investment in solar energy to reach more than $1 billion a day in 2023, surpassing that in oil. The rise is largely driven by soaring investments in China. Global investment in solar energy rose by 36% in 2022, according to BloombergNEF.

Paradoxically, while China leads the world in renewable energy investments, it remains the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide. China made up 55% of the world’s investment in renewable energy in 2022, far outpacing the U.S. and the EU. But in 2021 it also emitted almost a third of all global CO2, the Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research reported, almost three times the U.S. total and more than fourfold the EU’s. Its CO2 output remained largely unchanged in 2022.

China’s economy, booming after one of the world’s harshest COVID-19 lockdowns, continues to rely on coal. According to a report by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, China’s government issued permits for two new coal plants every week in 2022. China’s coal capacity, which produces more than a third of the country’s total electricity supply, is six times larger than that of the rest of the world combined.