World clean energy investment totalled $333.5 billion last year, up 3% from 2016 and the second highest annual figure ever, taking cumulative investment since 2010 to $2.5 trillion.
An extraordinary boom in photovoltaic installations made 2017 a record year for China’s investment in clean energy. This over-shadowed changes elsewhere, including jumps in investment in Australia and Mexico, and declines in Japan, the U.K. and Germany.
Annual figures from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), based on its world-leading database of projects and deals, show that global investment in renewable energy and energy-smart technologies reached $333.5 billion last year, up 3% from a revised $324.6 billion in 2016, and only 7% short of the record figure of $360.3 billion, reached in 2015.
Jon Moore, chief executive of BNEF, commented: “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.”
Solar investment globally amounted to $160.8 billion in 2017, up 18% 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% higher than in 2016, with an estimated 53GW of PV capacity installed – up from 30GW in 2016.
Justin Wu, head of Asia-Pacific for BNEF, said: “China installed about 20GW more solar capacity in 2017 than we forecast. This happened for two main reasons: first, despite a growing subsidy burden and worsening power curtailment, China’s regulators, under pressure from the industry, were slow to curb build of utility-scale projects outside allocated government quotas. Developers of these projects are assuming they will be allocated subsidy in future years.
“Second, the cost of solar continues to fall in China, and more projects are being deployed on rooftops, in industrial parks or at other distributed locales. These systems are not limited by the government quota. Large energy consumers in China are now installing solar panels to meet their own demand, with a minimal premium subsidy.”
Investment by country
Overall, Chinese investment in all the clean energy technologies was $132.6 billion, up 24% setting a new record. The next biggest investing country was the U.S., at $56.9 billion, up 1% on 2016 despite the less friendly tone towards renewables adopted by the Trump administration.
Large wind and solar project financings pushed Australia up 150% to a record $9 billion, and Mexico up 516% to $6.2 billion. On the downside, Japan saw investment decline by 16% in 2017, to $23.4 billion, while Germany slipped 26% to $14.6 billion and the U.K. 56% to $10.3 billion in the face of changes in policy support. Europe as a whole invested $57.4 billion, down 26% year-on-year.
Below are the 2017 totals for other countries and regions investing $1 billion-plus in clean energy:
- India $11 billion, down 20% compared to 2016
- Brazil $6.2 billion, up 10%
- France $5 billion, up 15%
- Sweden $4 billion, up 109%
- Netherlands $3.5 billion, up 30%
- Canada $3.3 billion, up 45%
- South Korea $2.9 billion, up 14%
- Egypt $2.6 billion, up 495%
- Italy $2.5 billion, up 15%
- Turkey $2.3 billion, down 8%
- United Arab Emirates $2.2 billion, up 23-fold
- Norway $2 billion, down 12%
- Argentina $1.8 billion, up 777%
- Switzerland $1.7 billion, down 10%
- Chile $1.5 billion, up 55%
- Austria $1.2 billion, up 4%
- Spain $1.1 billion, up 36%
- Taiwan $1 billion, down 6%
- Indonesia $1 billion, up 71%