In 2016, worldwide overall investment in clean renewable energy tech took a downhill turn, however, a new study by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), shows that the sector has picked up 3% to a record $333.5 billion. The upward movement seems to have been a 2017 boom in solar panel fittings in China.
The study says the new peak has counterweighed investment dips in Germany, Japan, and Britain. The last time such a huge sum was achieved occurred in 2015 when the sector recorded $360.3 billion in annual investments. BNEF chief executive, Jon Moore, commented that the 2017 results are even more of a surprise given that capital charges for solar, the major technology, continue their downward spiral. In fact, the study shows that overall investment in solar rose 18% in 2017 topping at $160.8 billion.
This comes in spite of a per megawatt drop of about a quarter in capital costs. China, whose investment rose 24% to $86.5 billion, is said to account for approximately half of the aforementioned overall total rise.
How did China reach its peak? BNEF’s Justin Wu, head of the Asia-Pacific region, says the country installed around 20 GW added solar capability in 2017 than forecasted, especially with its display of the first ever photovoltaic expressway.
As far as wind power goes, investment there slid 12% in 2017 to $107.2 billion, but 2016 had shown a sharp rise. Overall, solar and wind power endure as renewable energy systems even outpacing small scale hydroelectricity, geothermal, and biomass, which in 2017 drew less than $5 billion each.
The U.S. falls far behind China with investments of $56.9 billion, which was actually a rise of around 1% in spite of a negative governmental climate with President Trump extracting the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement given his doubts about climate change and a not so friendly attitude towards renewables.
Other countries that did impact the overall rise with almost double in investments, included Australia to $9 billion and Sweden to $4 billion. Investment in the United Arab Emirates reached a 23-fold spike to $2.2 billion, while Egypt recorded a 495% hike to $2.6 billion. Europe, on the other hand, recorded a prominent drop in investment in renewables to $57.4 billion.
This can be attributed to the 26% drop in Germany and 56% drop in the U.K. due to changes in energy policy. Japan investments were also down 16% and India was down 20% to $11 billion.
BNEF observed that last year a record 160 gigawatts of renewable power was installed — 56 GW of wind power and 98 GW of solar power, discounting hydroelectricity. The researchers are also upbeat as far as energy-smart tech (energy storage; smart meters), which is also moving ahead.