BNEF said about half of all investment went to solar projects, with China accounting for almost $133 billion-or about 40%-of the total investment in renewables.
With solar PV installations in China expected to have reached 54 gigawatts in 2017, new figures from Bloomberg New Energy Finance show that global clean energy investment totaled $333.5 billion previous year, up 3% and the second highest annual figure ever, coinciding with impressive momentum in both Mexico and Australia.
Though some countries, including the USA, have moved to support coal-fired power generation over the past year, investments in renewable energy continued to rise, according to a new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).
Solar investment globally amounted to $160.8 billion (£117bn), up 18% on the previous year. "Typical utility-scale PV systems were about 25 percent cheaper per megawatt last year than they were two years earlier". The world's biggest market for renewables has been working to contain the solar boom by curbing utility-scale projects built outside of allocated quotas. "Developers of these projects are assuming they will be allocated subsidy in future years", Justin Wu, head of Asia-Pacific for BNEF, said. Instead, it saw more panels installed in industrial parks, where energy-intensive companies sought to meet some of their own demand and reduce costs.
Overall, Chinese investment in all the clean energy technologies was $132.6 billion, up 24 percent setting a new record. The report said USA investment rose by 1% year-over-year, even as the Trump administration moved to prop up coal and nuclear power generation, and soften government rules on power plant emissions, favoring the use of fossil fuels.
About $333.5 billion poured into renewable energy and cutting-edge power technologies, up 3 percent from 2016 and 7 percent short of the record set in 2015, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Europe, as a whole, invested $57.4 billion, down 26 per cent year-on-year.
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There was significant progress in the transition to cleaner energy in 2017, and 2018 should see more of the same. Just over half of that was spent in China, the research showed. Most of that money, $86.5 billion, went to solar.
The country's National Energy Administration said photovoltaic (PV) power installations in the country had total generation capacity of about 126 GW through November 2017, up 67% year-over-year. Investment by sectorSolar led the way, as mentioned above, attracting $160.8 billion - equivalent to 48 per cent of the global total for all of clean energy investment. Japan's investment in solar and wind fell 16% in 2017, but still registered a healthy $23.4 billion, while the figures for Germany and the United Kingdom were 26% and 56% contraction respectively, equal to investments of $14.6 billion and $10.3 billion. There were also 13 Chinese offshore wind projects financed past year, with total capacity of 3.7GW, and estimated investment of $10.8 billion.
And China wasn't the only record-setter, according to BNEF.
Private equity buy-outs reached a record high of $15.8 billion, six times higher than the previous year.
A record $49 billion was invested in technologies such as smart grids and energy storage. BNEF says that a war in the Middle East, or on the Korean peninsula, or even political turmoil in the US, could upset financial markets, which would spell trouble for clean energy. About half that total was asset finance of smart meter installations and lithium-ion batteries.