When it comes to funding energy development, however, economics is not the only factor, with policy and public perception still favouring shale gas, experts say.
Jacobson says an 11 percent drop in renewable energy investments globally from 2012 to 2013 was mirrored in the U.S. largely due to the expiration of government subsidies that had been introduced to encourage the adoption of clean sources of energy.
Political infighting over energy priorities and a lack of clear, long-term public policy on renewable energy are stalling the transition to low-carbon fuels, say experts. “Uncertain policy is public enemy number one” for investors, said Maria van der Hoeven, executive director of the IEA, at the 2013 Renewable Energy Finance Forum in New York.
Jigar Shah, an energy entrepreneur and founder of SunEdison, a solar energy firm, says renewable energy can still attract the financing needed to allow the sector to grow.
“We’ve got much of the technology needed to solve the climate crisis,” he wrote in his book “Creating Climate Wealth.” “What we need now is financing innovation.”
Shifali Gupta is a degree candidate in the M.A. program in climate and society at Columbia University in New York.