LONDON and NEW YORK — The United States topped China for the first time since 2008 as global clean energy investment reached a new record of $260 billion in 2011, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The firm reported that the total was up 5 percent over 2010, as solar spending outpaced investments in wind.

Last year’s highlights include the United States retaking first place, with total investment surging to nearly $56 billion, up 33 percent; China saw investment rise just 1 percent to $47 billion. The report noted that a major portion of the U.S. increase was due to the now expired federal loan progam, and that another contributor, the production tax credit for renewables, is set to expire at the end of 2012.

Overall, solar technology investments surged 36 percent to almost $137 billion. This nearly doubled the $75 billion spent on wind power, which was down 17 percent. Other categories surveyed included energy-smart technologies, including smart grid, power storage, efficiency and advanced transport. The report also tallied smaller renewable energy sectors: biofuels saw total investment edge up from $8.6 to $9 billion; biomass and waste-to-energy dropped 18 percent to about $11 billion; geothermal slipped from $3.2 to $2.8 billion; and small hydropower fell 25 percent to $3 billion.

Publication date: 02/06/2012