Global Clean Power: A $2.3 Trillion Opportunity

Over the last half decade, the clean energy economy has emerged around the world as a major new opportunity for investment, manufacturing, jobs and environmental protection. This report, Global Clean Power: A $2.3 Trillion Opportunity, explores scenarios for the dynamic expansion of electricity generated by renewable resources over the next decade.

The future trajectory of investments in clean power projects will be determined by the strength of policies adopted by G-20 countries. If clean energy policies are strengthened significantly in the coming years, the report projects that $2.3 trillion will be invested in clean power assets over the next 10 years, offering companies and countries enormous opportunities to compete for investments, jobs and export markets. Under current policies, however, cumulative investments would only reach $1.7 trillion over the next decade. In other words, strong policies would leverage an additional $546 billion worth of worldwide investment.

The three scenarios modeled in this report are as follows:
  • Current Policies – This scenario assumes G-20 countries do not adopt any new climate or clean energy policies beyond those currently in effect.
  • Copenhagen Policies –This scenario assumes G-20 countries adopt and implement the policies required to meet pledges made pursuant to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (UNFCCC COP) in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2009.
  • Enhanced Clean Energy Policies – This scenario assumes that G-20 countries pursue enhanced clean energy policies in order to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions and maximize clean energy investments.

In all scenarios, the center of gravity for clean energy power investments shifts to Asia, led by dramatic increases in China and India. Still, all countries stand to gain from adoption of enhanced clean energy policies. The United States is one of the three countries (along with India and the United Kingdom) that have the most to gain from adoption of aggressive clean energy policies, when enhanced policies are compared to current policies.
From an environmental perspective, current and Copenhagen policies (associated with pledges made at the 2009 Climate Summit) are insufficient – only enhanced clean energy policies will ensure that the power sector contributes to the scientific goal of curtailing global warming at two degrees Celsius.

The report's modeled scenarios were developed in collaboration with Pew's research partner, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the world's leading provider of data and analysis on clean energy finance and investment.

Key findings from the report include:

  1. Opportunity Abounds - All G-20 countries have an opportunity to attract more private investment in renewable energy assets by adopting strong clean energy policies.
  2. Asia Leads the World in Clean Energy Investments Based on Surging Growth in China and India - Within the G-20, China, India, Japan and South Korea are projected to account for approximately 40 percent of clean energy project investments in 2020 under all three scenarios, with the Americas and Europe trailing.
  3. The United States Would Benefit From Strong Clean Energy Policies - Cumulatively the United States has the potential to attract $342 billion in private clean energy investments over the next decade.
  4. Europe's Clean Energy Economy Matures - Given its early leadership in clean energy development, it is expected that the European marketplace will mature in the coming decade, as investment in some of the early leaders declines and new entrants step forward.
  5. Clean Energy Policies Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions - Under all scenarios, increased investment helps to stem greenhouse gas emissions by G-20 members, which account for the overwhelming majority of global emissions.
  6. Renewable Energy Capacity Additions Could Exceed 177 Gigawatts Annually by 2020 - All clean energy technologies will be deployed in increasing quantities over the next 10 years.
  7. Policy Matters - The extraordinary worldwide growth in clean energy investment over the past five years has been defined by a simple fact: where supportive clean energy policies are adopted, investment follows.

Read the executive summary of the report here.

Read additional detail on key findings from the report here.