Global clean energy investments rose a marginal 3 per cent to $333.5 billion in 2017, led by China where investment in all clean energy technologies increased to $132.6 billion, up 24 per cent from 2016. However, clean energy investments in India dropped 20 per cent to $11 billion last year, according to BNEF.
“After China, the next biggest investing country was the U.S., at $56.9 billion, up 1 per cent on 2016 despite the less-friendly tone towards renewables adopted by the Trump administration,” BNEF said in a statement released along with its report on annual figures based on its database of projects and deals. The report shows global investment in renewable energy and energy-smart technologies in 2017 was only 7 per cent short of the record figure of $360.3 billion reached in 2015.
“The 2017 total is all the more remarkable when you consider that capital costs for the leading technology – solar – continue to fall sharply. Typical utility-scale PV systems were about 25% cheaper per megawatt last year than they were two years earlier,” Jon Moore, chief executive of BNEF.
Solar investment globally amounted to $160.8 billion in 2017, up 18 per cent on the previous year despite these cost reductions. Just over half of that world total, or $86.5 billion, was spent in China. This was 58 per cent higher than in 2016, with an estimated 53 GW of PV capacity installed – up from 30 GW in 2016.
Large wind and solar project financings pushed Australia up 150 per cent to a record $9 billion, and Mexico up 516 per cent to $6.2 billion. On the downside, Japan saw investment decline by 16 per cent in 2017, to $23.4 billion, while Germany slipped 26 per cent to $14.6 billion and the U.K. 56 per cent to $10.3 billion in the face of changes in policy support. Europe, as a whole, invested $57.4 billion, down 26 per cent year-on-year.
The solar power sector led the way, attracting $160.8 billion – equivalent to 48 per cent of the global total for all of clean energy investment. The two biggest solar projects of all to get the go-ahead last year were both in the United Arab Emirates: the 1.2 GW Marubeni JinkoSolar and Adwea Sweihan plant, at $899 million, and the 800 MW Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum III installation, at an estimated $968 million.
Wind energy was the second-biggest sector for investment in 2017, at $107.2 billion. This was down 12% on 2016 levels but there were record-breaking projects financed both onshore and offshore, BNEF said. The third-biggest sector was energy-smart technologies, where asset finance of smart meters and battery storage, and equity-raising by specialist companies in smart grid, efficiency, storage and electric vehicles, reached $48.8 billion in 2017, up 7 per cent on 2016 and the highest ever. The clean energy investment total excludes hydro-electric projects of more than 50MW.