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Ranked: The Top 10 Countries by Energy Transition Investment

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Energy transition investment

Ranked: The Top 10 Countries by Energy Transition Investment

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More than 130 countries have set or are considering a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.

Achieving net-zero on a global scale, however, requires $125 trillion in climate investment by 2050, according to research commissioned by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

While that level of investment hasn’t been achieved yet, it’s ramping up. In 2021, the world spent $755 billion on deploying low-carbon energy technologies, up 27% from the year prior.

This graphic highlights the top 10 countries by low-carbon energy investment in 2021 using data from BloombergNEF.

Energy Transition Investment by Country

The top 10 countries together invested $561 billion in the energy transition, nearly three-fourths of the world total.

Country2021 Energy Transition Investment (US$)% of World Total
China 🇨🇳$266B35.2%
U.S. 🇺🇸$114B15.1%
Germany 🇩🇪$47B6.2%
U.K. 🇬🇧$31B4.1%
France 🇫🇷$27B3.6%
Japan 🇯🇵$26B3.4%
India 🇮🇳$14B1.9%
South Korea 🇰🇷$13B1.7%
Brazil 🇧🇷$12B1.6%
Spain 🇪🇸$11B1.5%
Total$561B74.3%

China increased its overall energy transition investment by 60% from 2020 levels, further cementing its position as a global leader. The country’s wind and solar capacity increased by 19% in 2021, with electrified transport also accounting for a large portion of the investment.

Next, the U.S. invested $114 billion in clean energy last year, up 17% from 2020. Several European countries also made the top 10 list, with Germany, U.K., and France rounding out the top five. In total, European countries invested $219 billion in the energy transition.

Which Low-Carbon Technologies are Attracting Investment?

While the top 10 countries provide an overview of where investments are being made, it’s also interesting to see which sectors are seeing the biggest influxes of capital.

Here’s a breakdown of energy transition investment by sector in 2021:

Technology/SectorTotal Investment in 2021 (US$)% change from 2020
Renewable energy$365.9B6.8%
Electrified transport$273.2B76.7%
Electrified heat$52.7B10.7%
Nuclear$31.5B6.1%
Sustainable Materials$19.3B141.3%
Energy Storage$7.9B-6.0%
Carbon capture & storage$2.3B-23.3%
Hydrogen$2.0B33.3%
Total$754.8B26.8%

Renewables accounted for nearly 50% of total investment in 2021. However, electrified transport drove much of the growth as several countries charged ahead in the shift to electric vehicles.

Nuclear power also racked up roughly $32 billion in investments, as conviction grows that it can deliver reliable, carbon-free electricity. But the biggest overall percentage gain was seen in sustainable materials including recycling and bioplastics, which saw investment activity more than double in 2021.

Given that the dawn of clean energy is still in its early hours, technologies in the sector are constantly evolving. As the race to net-zero continues, which energy technologies will draw even more investment in the future?

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Energy

Visualized: The Growth of Clean Energy Stocks

Visual Capitalist partnered with EnergyX to analyze five major clean energy stocks and explore the factors driving this growth.

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The teaser image shows the growth of clean energy stocks and hints at their cumulative five-year returns.

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The following content is sponsored by EnergyX

The Growth of Clean Energy Stocks

Over the last few years, energy investment trends have shifted from fossil fuels to renewable and sustainable energy sources. Long-term energy investors now see significant returns from clean energy stocks, especially compared to those invested in fossil fuels alone.

For this graphic, Visual Capitalist has collaborated with EnergyX to examine the rise of clean energy stocks and gain a deeper understanding of the factors driving this growth.

Sustainable Energy Stock Performance

In 2023, the IEA reported that 62% of all energy investment went toward sustainable sources. As the world embraces sustainable energy and technologies like EVs, it’s no surprise that clean energy companies provide solid returns for their investors over long periods. 

Taking the top-five clean energy stocks by market cap (as of April 2024) and charting their five-year cumulative returns, it is clear that investments in clean energy are growing:

CompanyPrice: 01/04/2019Price: 12/29/20245-Year-Return %
First Solar, Inc.$46.32$172.28272%
Enphase Energy, Inc.$5.08$132.142,501%
Consolidated Edison, Inc.$76.55$90.9719%
NextEra Energy, Inc.$43.13$60.7441%
Brookfield Renewable Partners$14.78$26.2878%
promotional graphic with a button and wheel that promotes the EnergyX investment site

But how does this compare to the performance of fossil fuel stocks? 

When comparing the performance of the S&P Global Oil Index and the S&P Clean Energy Index between 2019 and 2023, we see that the former returned 15%, whereas the latter returned an impressive 41%. This trend demonstrates the potential for clean energy stocks to yield significant returns on an industry level, sparking optimism and excitement for potential investors. 

A Shift In Returns

With global investment trends moving away from traditional, non-sustainable sources, the companies that could shape the energy transition provide investors with alternative opportunities and avenues for growth. 

One such company is EnergyX. The lithium technology company has patented a groundbreaking technology that can improve lithium extraction rates by an incredible 300%, and its stock price has grown tenfold since its first offering in 2021.

promotional graphic that promotes the EnergyX investment site

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