From: Reuters
Published November 7, 2008 08:06 AM

Low carbon investment down 4% in 2008 -report

New investment in low carbon energy will decline by 4 percent in 2008 compared to 2007 due to the global financial crisis but the conditions for growth are intact, research group New Energy Finance said.

Total new investment in low carbon technology is estimated at $142 billion in 2008, down from the record level of $148 billion in 2007.

New Energy Finance said the credit crunch and financial crisis have caused a sharp fall in investment into such energy through public markets and a more modest fall in financing of wind farms, solar parks and biofuel plants.

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On the plus side, the research group sees an increase in venture capital and private equity investment into so-called clean energy.

"The sector is not immune to the ills of the wider economic and financial world, and it is suffering some effect. However, the growth fundamentals for clean energy remain robust," Michael Liebreich, chief executive of New Energy Finance, said.

He said policy support has increased in many countries, and should get a further boost once newly elected U.S. President Barack Obama takes office.

"Concerns about energy security and climate change will not be removed by short-term shifts in the oil price. New Energy Finance continues to forecast new investment in clean energy of more than $500 billion a year by 2020," he said in a statement.

In the short term, the research group sees a subdued fourth quarter as public market equity raising and asset finance struggle in the face of difficult market conditions.

Some banks and financial institutions hit by the financial crisis will not provide as many loans and favourable tax equity packages in the coming months, while widening financing spreads will make some marginal projects less viable.

It sees more merger and acquisition deals in the months ahead, however, as some smaller companies are forced to join with larger players due to the shortage of working capital. 

(Reporting by Nina Chestney; Editing by Anthony Barker)

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