The scale of the fall in investment activity in 2020 was without precedent. Global foreign direct investment fell from $1.5trn in 2019 to $1trn, 20% lower than in the aftermath of the 2007–09 global financial crisis.

Workers install solar panels at the construction site of a photovoltaic on-grid power project in China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

Projects in renewable energy were not immune from the global economic shock, but they showed resilience compared with other sectors. The value of international project finance announcements was 78% lower in the oil and gas sector, but only 7% lower in renewable energy compared with 2019, shows Energy Monitor’s Weekly Data, based on UNCTAD’s World Investment Report 2021.

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Other sectors also saw a significant fall in investment. International project finance deals in mining contracted by 72%, transport by 59% and telecommunications by 53%. Indeed, the relative resilience of international project finance was largely thanks to renewable energy projects, which constituted more than half of all deals in 2020.