Global clean energy finance and investment grew by 30 per cent to $243 billion in 2010, with China, Germany, India and Italy among the nations that most successfully attracted finance.

New research released by the Pew Charitable Trusts reveals that China reinforced its position as the world’s leading green energy economy, attracting a record $54.4 billion in investment in 2010, 39 per cent up from 2009.

Germany experienced a 100 per cent increase in investment in 2010 to $41.2 billion, while Italy attracted $13.9 billion. The United States, which had maintained the top spot until 2008, fell another rung in 2010 to third with $34 billion.

The United Kingdom experienced the largest decline among the G-20, falling from fifth to 13th.

The research shows that renewable energy policies lie at the heart of a country’s ability to attract finance, say the report’s authors. “Countries like China, Germany and India were attractive to financers because they have national policies that support renewable energy standards, carbon reduction targets and/or incentives for investment and production that create long-term certainty for investors,” said Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew’s Clean Energy Program.

The report also indicates that small-scale projects in the residential sector are growing in importance, with investments in residential solar growing by 100 per cent to $56.4 billion in the G20 group of nations. Most of these investments took place in Germany, Japan and France.

Overall, solar technologies experience the strongest growth worldwide and accounted for 40 per cent of total clean energy investment in 2010 at $79 billion. Wind power remains the most favoured technology, however, attracting $95 billion of investment in 2010.

For the first time, India joined the top 10 in Pew’s rankings, attracting $4 billion, a 25 per cent increase over 2009. Led by China, the Asia-Oceania region as a whole attracted $8.2 billion of investment.

“In less than three years, China has emerged as the world’s clean energy powerhouse and is firmly entrenched as the leading destination for private investment and manufacturing of related equipment,” said Cuttino. “China is on track to surpass key targets, including deploying 150 GW of wind energy and 20 GW of solar by 2020.

“China’s commitment to long-term clean energy policies is paying off.”