Globally, Total investment in solar dropped 24percent to $130.8 billion due to declining capital costs as well as a sharp change in policy in China in mid-year, according to a report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).
“2018 was certainly a difficult year for many solar manufacturers, and for developers in China. However, we estimate that global PV installations increased from 99GW in 2017 to approximately 109GW in 2018, as other countries took advantage of the technology’s fiercely improved competitiveness,” Jenny Chase, head of solar analysis at BNEF said.
In 2018, the biggest solar projects to be financed includes the 800MWNOORm Midelt PV and solar thermal portfolio in Morocco, at an estimated $2.4 billion, and the 709MW NLC Tangedco PV plant in India, at a cost of about $500 million.
Data from BNEF showed there were sharp contrasts between clean energy sectors in terms of the change in dollar investment last year. Wind investment rose 3 percent to $128.6 billion, with offshore wind having its second-highest year with $25.7 billion invested while money committed to smart meter rollouts and electric vehicle company financings also increased.
Biomass and waste-to-energy investment rose 18 percent to $6.3 billion, while those in bio-fuels rallied 47percent to $3 billion. Geothermal energy investment increased by 10 percent to $1.8 billion, small hydro investment decreased 50percent to $1.7 billion and investment in marine energy sources increased by 16percent to $180 million.
Research by BNEF showed investment in renewable technologies and infrastructure totaled $332.1 billion in 2018, down 8 percent on 2017.
In terms of regional trends, data from BNEF report showed Asian region maintained their lead having caught up with Europe in 2012 as China continued to lead with total investments of $100.1 billion, even though its 32 percent on its 2017’s record investments which can be attributed to a reduction in the value of solar commitments.
The United States ranked as the second-highest country, investing $64.2 billion, an increase of 12percent while investment decreased in Japan by 16 percent to $27.2 billion; in India by 21 percent to $11.1 billion; Germany by 32 percent to $10.5 billion.
In WoodMac’s latest global solar report, published in January, analysts said China will remain “crucial” to worldwide demand. In the next five years, they forecast the country will install nearly 200 gigawatts.
But rolling into the next decade, China will no longer be the unchallenged driver of solar growth as analysts forecast its market share will drop to 19 percent in 2023 from 55 percent in 2017, and emerging markets in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America will pick up some of that slack.
Looking into 2019, BNEF mentions that the PV market in China remains “in disarray.” It forecasts that investment next year will not match the heights it reached in 2018, let alone 2017.
BNEF also revealed investments in global clean energy decreased by eight percent to $332.1 billion in 2018 compared to $361.7 billion in 2017 despite investment exceeding $300 billion mark for the fifth consecutive time.