U.N. Report Shows U.S. Falling Behind in Clean Energy Investment

Apr 13, 2018

Renewable energy production continued its strong presence in 2017, according to a new joint report from the United Nations Environment Programme and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), but some countries are investing more than others. The report, titled “Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2018,” noted some surprising trends in the global renewable energy market.

A record 157 gigawatts (GW) of renewable power were commissioned in 2017, up from 143GW in 2016.  Renewable additions more than doubled the pace of the 70GW of net fossil fuel generating capacity added last year, with solar alone accounted for 98GW, or 38 percent of the net new power capacity coming on stream during 2017. 

Developing economies such as China, Brazil, India, and Mexico significantly increased their investment in renewables, accounting for more than 60 percent of total investment. In a continued display of its growing prominence as a global power, China spent $126.6 billion, nearly 50 percent of the total global renewable energy investment. Meanwhile, previous market heavyweights such as the European Union and U.S. saw investment declines with the EU’s investment declining 36 percent from what it was in 2016, and 68 percent less than its 2011 investment. This decline is indicative of the general trend among more economically developed countries, with overall investment falling 19 percent among developed economies.

Solar and wind energy were the primary investment recipients, with solar energy seeing an 18 percent increase thanks in part to heavy Chinese investment. But looking ahead, there are challenges that jeopardize the continued increase in renewable energy, including financing. Angus Crone, chief editor of BNEF explained, “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.”

To view the full report, click here: http://fs-unep-centre.org/sites/default/files/publications/gtr2018v2.pdf