Despite stimulus funds assigned for clean energy around the world, global new investment in clean energy plunged more than 53 percent in the first quarter of 2009, research group New Energy Finance said on Thursday.

New investment dropped to $13.3 billion in the first quarter of 2009, compared to the same quarter in 2008. The clean energy sector, which includes wind and solar power, suffered from a severe shortage of bank finance for projects and the uncertain state of overall stock markets confidence, the group said in a research note. However the sector has medium-term and long-term growth prospects, the study said.

Governments have committed $150 billion in stimulus funds in 2009 to support clean energy projects around the world, according to Ethan Zinvler, head of North American Research at the group. The figure was an informal survey of funds already allocated, he noted.

However those funds are not flowing fast enough, the research group says.

Green stimulus plans may represent the light at the end of the tunnel for clean energy companies, but meanwhile the sector has been hit by an oncoming train. These figures highlight the need for policy-makers and administrators in the U.S. and elsewhere to ensure that stimulus funds start flowing immediately, not in years or so, said Michael Liebreigh, chairman and CEO of New Energy Finance.

Overall Global investment in clean energy in 2008 reached $155 billion in 2008 up slightly from $148 billion in 2007, according to the group's records. Investment in 2009 will need to rise steeply in the next three quarters to match 2008 levels, the group said.

In the United States, asset finance of new-build renewable energy projects during the first three months of the year totaled just $500 million compared to $2 billion in the last quarter of 2008 and just over $5 billion in Q1 2008, the group noted.

Clean Energy Investment Relevant Figures

Asset finance of new-build projects such as wind farms, solar parks and biofuel plants in the first quarter of 2009 was $11.5 billion down 44 percent from Q4 2008.

Venture capital and private equity finance for clean energy companies fell 22 percent in Q1 2009 from $1.8 billion in Q4 2008.

Public market investment in pure-play clean energy companies in Q1 2009 was less than $100 million, compared to $1.1 billion in Q4 2008 and Q1 2008 $2.1 billion.

Merger, acquisition, buy-out and refinancing activity was $8.8 billion in Q1 20009 compared to $17.3 billion in Q4 2008. (These figures were not included inn the new investment total).