The research, carried out by data analyst firm Clean Energy Pipeline, showed the sector totalled $61bn (£36bn) in the first quarter of 2014, up from the $53.4bn invested in the corresponding period in 2013.

Clean Energy Pipeline CEO Douglas Lloyd said: “New clean energy investment was encouraging in 1Q14, marking a welcome change from recent press releases where we have been reporting year-on-year declines.” commented Douglas Lloyd, CEO of.

“The continued strength of the public markets is also giving the sector a more positive feel,” added Lloyd.

It also showed that the value of project finance activity remained “buoyant”, despite a 14% decline in the total number of project deals.

Project finance totalled $36.6bn in the first quarter of 2014, in line with the $36.5bn invested in the fourth quarter of 2013. However, looking at the figures year-on-year, project finance increased 18% in the fourth quarter of 2014, up from the $31.1bn invested during the corresponding quarter in 2013.

“Clean energy project finance volumes have now increased for four consecutive quarters,” the report states.

The increase in project finance was due to a small number of billion dollar utility balance sheet investments in European offshore wind farms.

Speaking to edie earlier this year, Generation Investment Management partner Colin Le Duc said there is a specific need for investment in the “enabling clean technologies” if we are to achieve a low carbon economy.

He said that although cheap solar panels and LEDs are available today, there is still a need for breakthrough next generation technology R&D investment “because many of the enabling technologies are not there yet – notably energy storage”.

“It’s just too expensive. So even though solar panels are cheap, the batteries aren’t, and you can’t have a distributed energy revolution without proper energy storage,” he added.

Leigh Stringer

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