Clean energy investment in 2018 drops on lower solar costs - BNEF

Image by: BNEF.

January 17 (Renewables Now) - Global clean energy investment in 2018 stayed above the USD-300-billion (EUR 263.2bn) mark but fell 8% year-on-year as, even though solar capacity additions crossed the 100-GW mark for the first time, solar investments dropped by 24%.

The total for 2018 arrived at USD 332.1 billion, according to figures by BloombergNEF (BNEF) released on Wednesday. Investment in utility-scale renewable energy projects and small-scale solar amounted to USD 256.5 billion. It was down 13% in annual terms even though the gigawatts added were up on 2017.


Solar investment last year tumbled to USD 130.8 billion mainly due to lower capital costs. BNEF’s global benchmark for the cost of installing a PV megawatt was down 12% in 2018 as the module supply glut forced photovoltaics (PV) makers to cut selling prices last year.

China’s decision to limit new capacity and cut feed-in tariffs (FiT) added to the tension and also led to a 53% plunge of solar investment in the country to USD 40.4 billion.

Global solar capacity additions rose to 109 GW in 2018 from 99 GW a year back as countries other than China “took advantage of the technology’s fiercely improved competitiveness,” said Jenny Chase, head of solar analysis at BNEF. She expects installations in the range of 125 GW to 141 GW in 2019.

“Technologies in the news will include floating solar, bifacial modules and combining utility-scale storage with solar,” Chase said.


In contrast to the drop in solar investment, spending on wind climbed by 3% to USD 128.6 billion, mainly driven by the offshore wind sector. Investments in wind parks at sea rose by 14% on the year to USD 25.7 billion, thanks to projects in Europe and China.

“Countries such as the UK and Germany pioneered this industry and will remain important, but China is taking over as the biggest market and new locations such as Taiwan and the US East Coast are seeing strong interest from developers,” commented David Hostert, head of wind analysis at BNEF.

Onshore wind, meanwhile, attracted some USD 100.8 billion in new asset finance, 2% more than in 2017.

Wind capacity additions reached 53.5 GW in 2018 and are expected to surpass 70 GW in 2019, according to the analyst. This will be mainly due to onshore wind installations in Northern Europe, China and the US, and a rise in offshore wind from 4.8 GW to 8.5 GW in Europe and Asia.


Spending on biomass and waste-to-energy projects was up 18% to USD 6.3 billion, while biofuels lured USD 3 billion, up 47% in annual terms.

Investment in the geothermal sector rose by 10% to USD 1.8 billion but shrank by 50% in the small hydropower segment to USD 1.7 billion. Spending on marine energy project increased by 16% to USD 180 million.

Money spent on smart meter rollouts and electric vehicle company financings also increased.


The table below shows clean energy investments in major markets, as given by BNEF.

  Investment (USD billion) Y/Y change
China 101.1 -32%
US 64.2 +12%
Japan 27.2 -16%
India 11.1 -21%
Germany 10.5 -32%
UK 10.4 +1%
Australia 9.5 +6%

(USD 1.0 = EUR 0.877)

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Veselina Petrova is one of Renewables Now's most experienced green energy writers. For several years she has been keeping track of game-changing events both large and small projects and across the globe.

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