China has retained its position as the world's biggest investor in renewable energy for the second consecutive year after ousting the US from the top spot in 2012.

A new report from Pew Charitable Trusts indicates that China was the world’s biggest investor in renewable energy in 2013, spending $54 billion on clean power sources in total.

According to the annual Pew report entitled Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race?, the US came in second with respect to clean energy investment last year, spending a total of $36.7 billion.

Other leading national investors in renewable energy in 2013 included Japan, rising from fifth to third place with spending of $28.6 billion, and the United Kingdom, which rose to fourth place from seventh place with spending of $12.4 billion.

Despite its modest population size, Australia managed to scrape into 10th place with clean energy investment of $4.4 million last year – a figure essentially unchanged from 2012, when its was ranked 13th.

China currently accounts for 29 per cent of G-20 investment in clean energy, with Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew’s clean energy program, noting that “no other clean energy market in the world is operating at that scale.”

According to the Pew report, the egregious rise in China’s urban air pollution has been one of the chief drivers of heavy investment in clean energy, with efforts to reduce poverty and spur economic development also serving as key motivations.

Last year was the second consecutive year that China led the world in renewables spending, after first ousting the US from the top spot in 2012. Investment on renewable energy saw a pronounced year-on-year decline in both nations, however, with China spending $57.9 billion and the US spending $40.3 billion in 2012.

According to the Pew report, global investment in renewable energy has also declined for two consecutive years, after hitting a peak of $318 billion in 2011. Investments in 2013 were $254 billion in total, for a decline of 11 per cent compared to 2012 and 20 per cent compared to 2011.

Another noteworthy finding of the report was that the installation of solar power facilities surpassed the construction of wind farms globally for the first time ever in 2013.

According to Cuttino, one third of all solar facilities on the planet were installed just last year, following a surge in deployment of 29 per cent on the back of sharp price declines.

 bloomberg renewable nergy chart