World clean energy investment hit $260 billion last year, in spite of a weak global economy, as nations ramped up investment to meet climate and energy targets. The United States, with $56 billion of investment, passed China to become the world's largest clean energy investor, a position it lost to China in 2009. "Despite financial crisis, and even though carbon pricing schemes haven't developed quite the way they were expected to . . . investment keeps growing," said Bloomberg New Energy Finance's lead clean energy analyst in Australia. The increase was driven largely by an increase in solar power spending, which rose 36% last year as prices for panels declined significantly. Bloomberg's head of policy analysis Ethan Zindler said that much of the available government support money has already been spent, and that in 2012 the industry will have to be more competitive and cost-effective. However, he added, the "vast majority" of the $260 billion was private funds. According to theGuardian, an increase in demand for renewable energy may lead to the need for as much as $400 billion in new power plant construction. For the full story, seeĀ