Global clean energy investment dropped 8% in 2018, with small hydro dropping 50%

Global investments in clean energy were down 8% in 2018 compared with 2017, and investment in small hydro was down 50%, according to a recent report from BloombergNEF.

BloombergNEF says 2018 was the fifth year in a row in which investments exceeded $300 billion, but there were “sharp contrasts” between sectors in terms of changing dollar investment last year, while onshore wind investment was up 2%.

For example, wind investment rose 3%, and money committed to smart meter rollouts and electric vehicle company financings increased. Offshore wind investment increased 14% over 2017.

However, overall investment in solar dropped 24%, partly due to sharply declining capital costs. (BNEF says the cost of installing a megawatt of photovoltaic capacity fell 12% in 2018.) At the same time, global PV installations increased to about 109 GW in 2018, from 99 GW in 2017.

Small hydro investment was down 50%, at $1.7 billion, while marine energy investment was up 16%, at $180 million. (For this report, BNEF excluded large hydroelectric projects from its definition of “renewable energy.”) Investments in biomass and waste-to-energy increased 18%, and investments in biofuels were up 47% and geothermal investment grew by 10%.

By country, BNEF says China “was again the clear leader,” at $100.1 billion, but this figure was down 32% on its 2017 investment. The U.S. was the second biggest in terms of country investments, at $64.2 billion and up 12%.

The country with the biggest drop, at 38%, was Mexico. South Africa saw the biggest jump, with a 40-fold increase in clean energy investment.

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