Growth in solar photovoltaics (PV) and the offshore wind sector has helped to drive a rebound in clean energy investment.

Annual data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) shows that global clean energy investment in 2014 reached $310 billion, a 16 % rise on 2013 and more than five times the level achieved in 2004.

The jump in investment reflected strong growth in key renewable energy markets including China, the USA, Japan, Canada and Brazil, as well as growth in demand for large-scale and rooftop solar PV and offshore wind.

Clean energy investment in Europe reached $66 billion, according to BNEF, a 1 % rise on 2013 levels.

Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board for Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said: "Throughout last year, we were predicting that global investment would bounce back at least 10 % in 2014, but these figures have exceeded our expectations. Solar was the biggest single contributor, thanks to the huge improvements in its cost-competitiveness over the last five years.

"Healthy investment in clean energy may surprise some commentators, who have been predicting trouble for renewables as a result of the oil price collapse since last summer. Our answer is that 2014 was too early to see any noticeable effect on investment, and anyway the impact of cheaper crude will be felt much more in road transport than in electricity generation."

Solar made up almost half of total clean energy investment in 2014, its highest share ever. Last year, solar saw $149.6 billion committed, up 25 % on 2013. Investment in wind rose 11 % to a record $99.5 billion. The third largest sector was energy smart technologies, including smart grid, power storage, efficiency and electrified transport, with $37.1 billion of investment, up 10 %.

Investment in biofuels was just $5.1 billion in 2014, down seven per cent, and in biomass and waste-to-energy $8.4 billion, down ten per cent. Geothermal attracted $2.7 billion, up 23 per cent on 2013, while small hydro-electric (projects of less than 50 MW) got $4.5 billion, down 17 per cent.

Sian Crampsie