BNEF hedging bets on China's solar installations in 2018

BNEF hedging bets on China's solar installations in 2018

China's insatiable appetite for solar power led to a surprise increase in global clean-energy investment past year even as U.S. President Donald Trump pushed to undermine pollution rules and curbs on coal.

A year ago saw the second-highest ever figure invested globally in clean energy, with $333.5 billion poured into the sector worldwide, finds a new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

Mr Jon Moore, chief executive of BNEF said that "The 2017 total is all the more remarkable when you consider that capital costs for the leading technology solar - continue to fall sharply".

GTM Research estimates the country's total installs just under that number, at 52 gigawatts.

Second, the cost of solar continues to fall in China, and more projects are being deployed on rooftops, in industrial parks or at other distributed locales. "These systems are not limited by the government quota", Wu said. Nearly half went to solar projects, and China's investment accounted for 40 percent of the total. The UK already has said it will end coal-fired generation no later than 2025, though its investment in renewables dropped 56% in 2017 from 2016 levels, to $10.3 billion, due to changes in policies supporting renewables.

Australia grew renewables investment by 150 percent, to a record $9 billion.

2017 Global Clean Energy Investment Tops $333 Billion

Chinese investment in clean energy as a whole totalled $132.6 billion last year, up 24 percent from a year earlier to a record high.

The U.S. invested $57 billion, making it the world's second-biggest backer of renewables.

All told, clean energy investment reached a record annual total of 160 commissioned gigawatts. Wind power investment fell 12% to $107.2 billion, while "energy-smart" technologies such a smart meters and battery storage saw investment increase by 7% to propel the sector to $48.8 billion investment a year ago. Onshore, American Electric Power said it would back the 2GW Oklahoma Wind Catcher project in the United States, at $2.9 billion excluding transmission. Specifically, American Electric Power backed the 2 GW (gigawatt) Oklahoma Wind Catcher project at $2.9 billion, while ├śrsted reached final investment decision on the 1.4 GW Hornsea 2 project worth an estimated $4.8 billion. Developers channeled 1 percent more capital into clean energy than the previous year even though Trump worked to gut emissions rules governing power plants. Investment also dropped by 16% in Japan to a total of $23.4 billion. "Large energy consumers in China are now installing solar panels to meet their own demand, with a minimal premium subsidy", he added.

Asset finance of utility-scale projects made up 65% of the global investment total. Small-scale projects of less than 1MW (effectively small solar systems) attracted $49.4 billion, up 15 per cent - thanks in large part to the installation rush in China. Meanwhile, $127.9 billion changed hands past year - the highest amount ever - as organizations purchased and sold clean energy projects and companies and refinanced existing project debt.

Acquisitions and refinancings of clean energy projects also hit an all-time record, rising 4 percent to $128 billion.

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