Record level of new solar power projects installed in 2017

Published by Ja Wei Lee on

April 10th, 2018

The world installed a record number of new solar power projects in 2017, more than net additions of coal, gas and nuclear plants put together.

This is the finding in a new report put together by UN Environment, the Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance, and Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

According to the Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2018 report, the world installed 98 gigawatts of new solar capacity, attracting $160.8 billion in investments. Combined coal and gas investments were $103 billion.

A total of 157 gigawatts of renewable energy power were commissioned in 2017, up from 143 gigawatts in 2016. Fossil fuel generating capacities only had 70 gigawatts.

China led the way internationally, with $86.5 billion invested in solar energy and 53 gigawatts installed. The country was also the largest investor for all renewables at $126.6 billion, a rise of 31 per cent from 2016.

The report states that the falling price of installing solar energy is the prime driver for investments in solar energy.

Europe, however, saw a decline of 36 per cent in renewable energy investments, down to $40.9 billion with major declines in UK and Germany.

The UK plunged 65 per cent in investments to $7.6 billion while Germany’s investments went down 35 per cent to $10.4 billion. 2017 was the eighth year in a row in which global investment in renewables exceeded $200 billion.

“The world added more solar capacity than coal, gas and nuclear plants combined,” said Nils Stieglitz, President of Frankfurt School of Finance & Management.

“This shows where we are heading, although the fact that renewables altogether are still far from providing the majority of electricity means that we still have a long way to go.”

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.”

Renewable Energy in Ireland

According to the report, Ireland saw just a 1 per cent growth for renewable energy investments, up to $0.8 billion.

Ireland is committed to produce 16 per cent of all energy from renewable sources by 2020, under the EU Renewable Energy Directive.

This is expected to be met by 40 per cent from renewable electricity, 12 per cent from renewable heat and 10 per cent from renewable energy in the transport sector.

The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment was contacted for comment, but did not respond by the time of publication.

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Ja Wei Lee

Ja Wei is a third-year journalism student from DIT. He is passionate about writing, exploring new ideas and has a keen interest in social issues