PROJECT | Staff Reporter, China

China dominates clean energy investment at $132.6b

The 24% surge in investments smashed previous records.

Chinese investment in all the clean energy technologies was $132.6 billion, up 24% setting a new record. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the next biggest investing country was the U.S., at $56.9 billion, up 1% on 2016 despite the less friendly tone towards renewables adopted by the Trump administration.

Large wind and solar project financings pushed Australia up 150% to a record $9 billion, and Mexico up 516% to $6.2 billion. On the downside, Japan saw investment decline by 16% in 2017, to $23.4 billion, while Germany slipped 26% to $14.6 billion and the U.K. 56% to $10.3 billion in the face of changes in policy support. Europe as a whole invested $57.4 billion, down 26% year-on-year.

Below are the 2017 totals for other countries investing $1 billion-plus in clean energy:

India $11 billion, down 20% compared to 2016
Brazil $6.2 billion, up 10%
France $5 billion, up 15%
Sweden $4 billion, up 109%
Netherlands $3.5 billion, up 30%
Canada $3.3 billion, up 45%
South Korea $2.9 billion, up 14%
Egypt $2.6 billion, up 495%
Italy $2.5 billion, up 15%
Turkey $2.3 billion, down 8%
United Arab Emirates $2.2 billion, up 23-fold
Norway $2 billion, down 12%
Argentina $1.8 billion, up 777%
Switzerland $1.7 billion, down 10%
Chile $1.5 billion, up 55%
Austria $1.2 billion, up 4%
Spain $1.1 billion, up 36%
Taiwan $1 billion, down 6%
Indonesia $1 billion, up 71%

Here's more from BNEF:

Solar led the way, as mentioned above, attracting $160.8 billion – equivalent to 48% of the global total for all of clean energy investment. The two biggest solar projects of all to get the go-ahead last year were both in the United Arab Emirates: the 1.2GW Marubeni JinkoSolar and Adwea Sweihan plant, at $899 million, and the 800MW Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum III installation, at an estimated $968 million.

Wind was the second-biggest sector for investment in 2017, at $107.2 billion. This was down 12% on 2016 levels, but there were record-breaking projects financed both onshore and offshore. Onshore, American Electric Power said it would back the 2GW Oklahoma Wind Catcher project in the U.S., at $2.9 billion excluding transmission. Offshore, Ørsted said it had reached ‘final investment decision’ on the 1.4GW Hornsea 2 project in the U.K. North Sea, at an estimated $4.8 billion. There were also 13 Chinese offshore wind projects financed last year, with total capacity of 3.7GW, and estimated investment of $10.8 billion.

The third-biggest sector was energy-smart technologies, where asset finance of smart meters and battery storage, and equity-raising by specialist companies in smart grid, efficiency, storage and electric vehicles, reached $48.8 billion in 2017, up 7% on the previous year and the highest ever.

The remaining sectors lagged far behind, with biomass and waste-to-energy down 36% at $4.7 billion, biofuels down 3% at $2 billion, small hydro 14% lower at $3.4 billion, low-carbon services 4% down at $4.8 billion, geothermal down 34% at $1.6 billion, and marine energy down 14% at just $156 million.

The clean energy investment total excludes hydro-electric projects of more than 50MW. However, for comparison, final investment decisions in large hydro are likely to have been worth $40-50 billion in 2017.

BNEF’s preliminary estimates are that a record 160GW of clean energy generating capacity (excluding large hydro) were commissioned in 2017, with solar providing 98GW of that, wind 56GW, biomass and waste-to-energy 3GW, small hydro 2.7GW, geothermal 700MW and marine less than 10MW.

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