Home Green Dreams on Hold – Renewable Stocks Face Headwinds

Executive Summary

The renewable energy sector is experiencing a paradox: record-breaking investments are happening alongside a significant decline in stock prices. While ambitious climate goals and energy security concerns are fueling investment, rising interest rates, inflation, and project delays are causing investor concern. Despite these headwinds, the long-term outlook remains positive. Technological advancements, supportive policies like the Inflation Reduction Act, and strong public opinion for clean energy suggest the sector is well-positioned for future growth, offering potential buying opportunities for investors who can weather the current storm.



The renewable energy sector is experiencing a complex interplay of investment surge and stock market decline. In the first half of 2023, global investment in renewable energy reached a record-breaking $358 billion, marking a remarkable 22% increase from the start of 2022. This investment surge reflects the momentum propelled by ambitious climate goals and heightened concerns over energy security. However, despite this promising trend, renewable energy stocks are presently witnessing a notable decline, prompting concerns among investors regarding the future trajectory of the green energy sector.

  • The S&P Global Clean Energy Index has decreased by 20.2% in the past two months, its worst performance since 2013.
  • The Invesco Solar ETF (TAN) has dropped by 35% in the same period and The First Trust Global Wind Energy ETF (FAN) has decreased by 32%.


Unraveling the recent dip in renewable energy stocks: Potential causes explored

Macroeconomic factors:

  • Rising interest rates: The increase in interest rates is making it more expensive for renewable energy companies to raise capital, putting a damper on investment in the sector. This impact is particularly significant in the renewable energy sector, where projects often have high upfront costs and long payback periods.
  • Inflationary pressures: The escalation in costs of materials and labor is exerting pressure on the margins of renewable energy companies, rendering them less appealing to investors. This trend is exacerbated by supply chain disruptions and increased demand for renewable infrastructure, further straining profitability.
  • Failed and delayed project: Since the end of 2021, more than 56 gigawatts of renewable energy projects have been delayed. These projects can potentially power nearly 10 million homes; however, two-thirds of the delays are attributed to    solar energy facilities.  Additionally, even government initiatives such as California’s net metering reform and offshore wind projects in the Northeast have also faced challenges and delays. The delays are partly due to restrictions on imports in the US. Despite increased investment in certain areas, challenges like obtaining permits and approvals to move projects forward or developing necessary infrastructure continue to hinder progress.


Energy industry-specific challenges

Energy Industry-specific challenges
  • Supply chain disruptions cause delays and cost increases for renewable energy projects. The global supply chain needs to be adjusted to accommodate the key components and materials required for these projects.
  • Grid integration issues arise when incorporating large amounts of variable renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, into the existing power grid. Significant investment in grid infrastructure upgrades is required, which can lead to project delays.
  • Policy uncertainty discourages investment in renewable energy. If the future of government policies that support this industry is unclear, investors may be hesitant to provide funding.
  • Competition from fossil fuels makes renewable energy less attractive in the short term. Fossil fuels currently supply about 80% of the world’s energy, and the recent rise in oil and gas prices makes them more cost-competitive with renewables.


Investor sentiment toward renewable stock investments

  • Investor fatigue: After a period of strong growth, averaging around 9.7% over the past three years (2020-2022), some investors may be experiencing investor fatigue. This refers to a period of decreased interest or participation following a significant upswing in a particular sector. In the case of renewable energy, investors who entered the market earlier and enjoyed substantial returns might be taking profits or waiting for a clearer picture of future growth before reinvesting. This can lead to temporary price stagnation or pullbacks, even though long-term prospects for the sector remain positive.
  • Global economic slowdown: In the United States, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates by 0.75 percentage points in September 2023, the third such hike in a row. This led to a significant increase in borrowing costs for businesses and consumers, leading to a downfall in spending and investment. Rising interest rates and inflation are leading to a global economic slowdown, which has dampened investor sentiment towards growth stocks, including those in the renewable energy sector. Investors are shifting towards more defensive sectors with lower risk profiles. China, the world’s second-largest economy, is also experiencing a slowdown, which is further impacting global economic growth and investor confidence. In the second quarter of 2023, China’s GDP fell 6.3% below market expectations. China’s deceleration, driven by factors such as its past COVID policies and a struggling property sector, has ripple effects across various sectors and countries that rely heavily on Chinese demand. It is also predicted that the global economy could see slower growth by 0.1-0.5 percentage points in 2023-2024 relative to the baseline.
  • Geopolitical risks: Geopolitical tensions and conflicts can create uncertainty in the global market, leading investors, especially risk-averse ones, to pull out of renewable energy projects. This is due to concerns about supply chain disruptions, rising material costs, or potential damage to infrastructure, which can hinder investment flows and slow down the development of renewable energy sectors in affected regions. Geopolitical instability can cause countries to prioritize energy security over long-term climate goals, which could result in a temporary resurgence of fossil fuels like coal, seen as a more reliable domestic source of energy in the short term. The Russia-Ukraine War has caused a global energy crisis, with disruptions to oil and gas supplies from Russia. This has led to a surge in energy prices, prompting some European countries to reconsider using coal-fired power plants to meet their energy needs. Furthermore, many critical minerals needed for renewable energy technologies, such as lithium and cobalt, are found in a few countries with political instability. This creates a risk of supply chain disruptions that can stall or inflate the cost of renewable energy projects.


Long-term outlook

  • Despite the recent dip, the long-term outlook for clean energy remains strong. Renewable sources are becoming increasingly cost-competitive with fossil fuels, driven by technological advancements and falling battery prices. For instance, solar panels have dropped by over 90% since the 1970s, going from around $115 per watt to around $0.27 per watt in 2021. This trend is expected to continue, with further cost reductions projected in the coming years.
  • The graph below shows a clear trend of increasing investment in renewable energy sources like solar and onshore wind compared to oil and gas exploration & production (upstream). This suggests that the market is moving towards renewable energy sources. The graph also highlights significant investment growth in clean technology sectors. These technologies are likely to play an important role in facilitating the use of renewable energy sources, which suggests that the market is placing more value on renewable energy sources. This could be a positive indicator for renewable energy stocks in the long term.
Energy Investments by Sector
  • Despite some political headwinds, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) signed by President Biden dedicates approximately $369 billion toward climate and clean energy initiatives. The IRA also offers tax credits and grants designed to bolster domestic manufacturing of clean energy technologies, such as solar panels, batteries, and electric vehicles. This policy boost is expected to have a long-term impact on the sector’s growth.
  • ESG investing, which focuses on companies that consider environmental, social, and governance factors, has been gaining traction. If this trend continues, it could lead to more investment in renewable energy companies, which could benefit their stock prices.
  • For many surveys conducted, public opinion polls consistently show strong support for clean energy initiatives in the US. 67% of Americans prioritize developing renewable energy sources over expanding fossil fuel production, and 61% favor requiring power plants to eliminate all carbon emissions by the year 2040. This grassroots pressure can incentivize policymakers to prioritize climate action and provide further support for the sector.
Public Opinion Polls


In 2023, renewable energy stocks encountered challenges and lagged behind the broader utility sector. Rising interest rates, alongside high inflation, impacted profitability: 67% of Americans prioritized renewable energy development over expanding fossil fuels, and 61% favored power plants eliminating carbon emissions by 2040. These factors, coupled with supply chain disruptions and policy uncertainties, led to downward pressure on stock prices.

Investor fatigue and a global economic slowdown, marked by China’s 6.3% GDP decline in Q2 2023, shifted focus to defensive stocks. Geopolitical risks and a resurgence of interest in coal and nuclear power further dampened investor sentiment. Government initiatives, such as California’s net metering reform and offshore wind projects in the Northeast, faced hurdles. Overcoming these challenges is vital for industry growth. Despite the current slump, renewable stocks may offer buying opportunities for long-term growth.

Looking ahead, the renewable energy sector is poised for significant growth. Predictions suggest that by 2030, renewable energy sources will account for over 50% of global electricity generation, with solar and wind power leading the charge. Additionally, technological advancements and increased government support are expected to drive further innovation and investment in the sector.

While the sector confronts headwinds, the long-term outlook is promising. Addressing challenges like rising interest rates and project delays, supported by government initiatives and technological advancements, could pave the way for sustainable growth and profitability in the renewable energy industry.

To uncover deeper insights and actionable strategies for a sustainable energy future, consult our experts.


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