The world has invested 2.9 trillion dollars in green energy sources since 2004, Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2018 report released Thursday shows.
The report jointly published by the United Nations and Bloomberg New Energy Finance shows a steady move away from fossil fuel-based power production to ‘green’ power sources.
Investors worldwide in 2017 ploughed a record $161 billion into solar energy, the report says, more than half the investment in all renewables apart from large hydroelectric projects. Total investment in renewables rose 2 percent to $280 billion that year with China having the largest share of $127 billion investment, inits bid to no longer be seen as the world’s worst polluter.
Renewables made up a record 61 percent of net power generation capacity added worldwide in 2017. Actual output from clean energy sources accounted for just 12 percent of electricity production, illustrating the gap that needs to be bridged before clean energy can overtake fossil fuels.
Developing economies accounted for a record 63 percent of global investment in renewable energy in 2017, up from 54 percent in 2016, as Europe’s share of world investment fell to just 15 percent in 2017, the lowest recorded since the data series began in 2004.
Renewable energy investment in the U.S. was $40.5 billion, down 6 percent.
“The world added more solar capacity than coal, gas, and nuclear plants combined,” said Nils Stieglitz, president of the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, which contributed to the report. “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.”
The costs of solar and wind energy have shrunk dramatically in recent years, making the economic case to transition away from carbon-intensive energy sources all the more compelling. Even though coal and gas are still the cheapest sources of electricity, that’s likely to change as soon as 2023, according to BNEF.
China, Australia and Sweden saw the largest increase in investment, which declined for markets that have historically led the way for renewables. U.K. investment fell by 65 percent while Germany’s slipped by more than a third.
Global emissions rose to a record last year in the first annual increase since 2014, the report states, where renewable energy prevented the emission of 1.8 gigatons of carbon dioxide in 2017
In 2017, $103 billion was invested in new fossil fuel generators while $42 billion went into new nuclear reactors, and $45 billion to large hydro dams.
The Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2018 report was published on April 5th by UN Environment, the Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre, and Bloomberg New Energy Finance