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China’s solar boom drove 2017 rise in global clean-energy investment

Investment in clean energy projects rose by 3 per cent globally last year according to the annual report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

$333.5bn (£242.3bn) was spent on green energy in 2017 driven by a surge in solar photovoltaic (PV) installations.

However, the figure is below 2015’s record amount of $3­60.3bn, the report states.

In particular, the surging solar market in China proved a boon to the sector, over-shadowing changes elsewhere, including jumps in investment in Australia and Mexico, and declines in Japan, the UK and Germany.

The UK was one of the worst performers seeing a massive 56 per cent drop in wake of policy changes from the government.

Solar investment totalled $160.8bn in 2017, up 18 per cent from the previous year even though technology costs have fallen. Just over half of that was spent in China, the research showed.

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 per cent cheaper per megawatt last year than they were two years earlier.”

Chinese investment in clean energy as a whole totalled $132.6bn last year, up 24 per cent from a year earlier to a record high.

Europe invested $57.4bn, down 26 per cent from the previous year, and the United States invested $56.9bn, up 1 per cent on 2016 despite US president Donald Trump’s strong support for fossil fuels and scepticism on climate change. 

Meanwhile, $127.9bn changed hands last year - the highest amount ever - as organisations purchased and sold clean energy projects and companies and refinanced existing project debt.

Private equity buy-outs reached a record high of $15.8bn, six times higher than the previous year. The largest acquisition transaction of 2017 was Brookfield Asset Management’s purchase of a stake in US TerraForm Power for $4.7bn, the report said.

Graph showing investment in billions since 2004:

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