Solar and wind investment 3X bigger than coal and gas in 2017

Renewables ring in at $280 billion, fossils at $103 billion.

The world installed a record 98 gigawatts of new solar capacity in 2017, far more than the net additions of any other technology – renewable, fossil fuel or nuclear.

Last year was the eighth in a row that global investment in renewables exceeded $200 billion. Since 2004 the world has invested $2.9 trillion in green energy sources. The figures are detailed in the Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2018 report released today by UN Environment and Bloomberg.

Solar power was the leader in 2017, making up more than half (57%) of the $279.8 billion renewables (excluding large hydro) total. Of that solar investment, China led the sunshine brigade, installing more than half of the world’s new capacity.

“The extraordinary surge in solar investment shows how the global energy map is changing and, more importantly, what the economic benefits are of such a shift,” said UN Environment head Erik Solheim. “Investments in renewables bring more people into the economy, they deliver more jobs, better quality jobs and better paid jobs. Clean energy also means less pollution, which means healthier, happier development.”

China investment up, U.S. and Europe down

Renewable Investment by Region 2017
Renewable Investment by Region 2017

Some big markets, however, saw declines in investment in renewables. In the United States, investment dropped 6 per cent, coming in at $40.5 billion. In Europe there was a fall of 36 per cent, to $40.9 billion, with big drops in the United Kingdom (down 65 per cent to $7.6 billion) and Germany (down 35 per cent to $10.4 billion). Investment in Japan slipped 28 per cent to $13.4 billion.

Angus McCrone, Chief Editor of Bloomberg New Energy Finance and lead author of the report, said: “In countries that saw lower investment, it generally reflected a mixture of changes in policy support, the timing of large project financings, such as in offshore wind, and lower capital costs per megawatt.”

The current level of electricity generated by renewables corresponds to about 1.8 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions avoided – roughly equivalent to those produced by the entire U.S. transport system.

The report was put together by UN Environment, Frankfurt School – UNEP Collaborating Centre, and Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Click here to download the full report
Photo: Reegan Moen

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