April 10, 2015 / 12:03 PM / 4 years ago

Clean energy investment hits lowest level for two years in first quarter

* Global clean energy investment at $50.5 bln in Q1

* Brazil has biggest slump in investment

* South Africa has biggest rise

LONDON, April 10 (Reuters) - Global clean energy investment in the first quarter of this year fell to its lowest quarterly level for two years, as large deals slowed in China, Europe and Brazil, research showed on Friday.

Investment in renewable energy such as wind and solar power and biomass fell to $50.5 billion in January to March compared with $59.3 billion in same quarter last year, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) said in a report.

The last quarter to show weaker investment was the first quarter of 2013 at $43.1 billion.

The first quarter tends to be the weakest in terms of clean energy investment as banks and equity investors pause after a busy year-end and as project developers digest any changes in renewable energy support mechanisms.

But this year the strengthening of the U.S. dollar against many currencies also impacted financing and there were fewer large-scale wind investments compared with the first quarter of 2014.

Asset finance of utility-scale renewable projects fell 19 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier to $27.9 billion, while venture capital and private equity investment in clean energy fell by 21 percent to $1 billion, the report showed.

“There’s a lot of ground still to cover this year. No one knows whether the oil price is going to bounce back or collapse further. There is good momentum towards some sort of climate deal in Paris in December,” said Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board at BNEF.

Geographically, clean energy investment in Brazil slumped by 62 percent to $1.1 billion compared with the first quarter of last year, while investment in Europe fell by 30 percent to $9.7 billion and China investment was down 24 percent to $11 billion.

On the other hand, clean energy investment in South Africa surged to $3.1 billion from almost nothing in the first quarter last year, and investment in India rose by 59 percent to $1.6 billion. (Reporting by Nina Chestney; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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