Investment in renewable energy dips globally as prices fall

Isaac Kalua
Isaac Kalua
Author

07 April, 2017

The downturn comes after 11-years of increasing investment. The report says this is largely the result of decreasing technology costs.

Wind power and solar photovoltaics both saw a 10 percent decline in the average dollar amount of capital expenditure per megawatt.

Investments in renewable capacity were roughly double those in fossil fuels in 2016, BNEF data show.

United Nations -backed report says global investments in renewable energy fell by nearly a quarter a year ago amid a drop in prices and lower spending in some markets.

Excluding large hydro projects for their questionable environmental role, it rose to just 11.3 percent of world power generation, up from 10.3 percent a year earlier.

The total investment was $241.6 billion (excluding large hydro), the lowest since 2013. The country is home to approximately 50,100 megawatts of installed clean energy capacity. Wind investments totaled $112.5 billion, down 9% from 2015 levels. Solar capacity additions, however, rose to an all-time high of 75 gigawatts.

While much of the drop in financing was due to reduced technology costs, Global Trends pointed to slow downs in China, Japan and some emerging markets, for a variety of reasons.

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Renewable energy investment in developing countries fell 30 per cent to $117 billion, while that in developed economies dropped 14 per cent to $125 billion. "Mexico, Chile, Uruguay, South Africa and Morocco all saw falls in investment of 60% or more, on a mixture of scheduled pauses and delays with auction programmes and financings", according to the report.

US investment dipped by 10 per cent, to $46.4 billion, as developers paced their projects to take advantage of tax credits.

"It's a whole new world", Michael Liebreich, the founder of New Energy Finance, said in a statement.

The Global Trends report shows an extra 75GW of solar power was added in 2016, a new high, while 54GW of wind was installed, down from the previous year's high of 63GW.

Investment in 2016 was evenly divided between solar and wind.

But investors got more bang for their buck: renewable energy capacity grew increased by 138.5 gigawatts, 8 per cent more than the 127.5 gigawatts added the year before. The Global Trends report indicates that 1.7 Gt of Carbon dioxide emissions were abated as a result of the 2016 renewable capacity additions. India had also promised to have about 40% of its power from renewable sources by 2030.

Europe saw a 3 percent rise to $59.8 billion, led by Britain and Germany. Offshore wind ($25.9 billion) dominated Europe's investment, up 53% thanks to mega-arrays such as the 1.2 GW Hornsea project in the North Sea, estimated to cost $5.7 billion. The report notes several cases in which solar and wind projects won bids in auctions at prices that would have been unbelievably low in the recent past.


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