Global investment in renewables rise to over €270 billion in 2017

Published by Felipe Wasserstein on

January 23rd, 2018

Global investment in renewable energy rose to over €270 billion in 2017, a new financial study released this month has found.

According to the analysis from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), this is a three per cent increase from the €264 billion invested in 2016 as more clean energy was commissioned in 2017 than in any other year.

BNEF estimates that 160GW – just under Ireland’s annual energy demand in 2016 – of renewables was commissioned in 2017, with solar (98GW) and wind (56GW) making up the majority of new developments.

Perovo Solar Park Photo: Activ Solar

Solar leading the way

According to the report, the costs of solar energy are declining sharply across the world and have played a major role in the 18 per cent rise in solar investment to over €130 billion in 2017, with major investment seen in China.

According to BNEF’s Head for the Asia-Pacific region, Justin Wu, China installed 20GW more solar energy this year than originally predicted. “Large energy consumers in China are now installing solar panels to meet their own demand, with a minimal premium subsidy”, Mr Wu added.

Wind also received significant investment in 2017, according to the report, with large projects both onshore and offshore such as the 2GW Oklahoma Wind Catcher in the USA and the 1.4GW Hornsea 2 project in the UK.

The third largest sector to receive investment was energy-smart technologies, such as smart meters and batteries, which received over €39 billion worth of investment in 2017, up 7 per cent from 2016.

Solar panels at Seldom Rest Farms Photo: US Department of Agriculture

Total Investments by Country

China (€107 billion) was the largest investor in clean energy technologies in 2017, followed by the US (€46 billion). The US figures are expected to drop in 2018 with President Donald Trump’s recent decision to impose tariffs of up to 30 per cent on solar equipment imports.

According to the BNEF study, European investment (€46 billion) declined significantly last year, with a sharp fall in the UK (56 per cent) and Germany (26 per cent).

The UK’s Shadow energy minister, Alan Whitehead, expressed his discontentment with the fall in UK  investment in an interview with The Guardian last week.

He told The Guardian that the government’s “green rhetoric” was nothing more than “empty promises”, and that the Conservative Party’s abandoning solar energy and onshore wind has “spooked investors”.  

In 2016, the Green Alliance think tank claimed that British investment in renewable energy will fall by 95 per cent in the UK between 2017 and 2020.

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Felipe Wasserstein

Felipe is studying for an MA in Journalism and Media Communications from Griffth College Dublin. He is passionate about the environment, history, and cinema.