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Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2018

The renewable energy market continues to make remarkable progress. Last year was the eighth in a row that global investment in renewables exceeded US$200 billion. Much of this can be attributed to falling costs for solar electricity, and to some extent wind power, which continues to drive deployment. More electricity generated by renewable sources in 2017 signals strong commitment to addressing climate change and reducing carbon emissions.

The world installed a record number of new solar power projects in 2017, more than net additions of coal, gas and nuclear plants put together. China has been the leading destination for renewable energy investment, accounting for 45 percent of the global investment. The country has initiated 13 offshore wind projects, which in addition to reducing emissions will generate jobs in all stages of construction and operation. This demonstrates the potential for renewable energy to fight climate change and boost economic growth. Fossil-fuel-rich countries are also showcasing strong progress. The United Arab Emirates, for example, recorded an astounding 29-fold increase in renewable energy investment in 2017. 

While there is much to be positive about, it is also evident that we need to continue to push the acceleration of the global renewable energy revolution. In 2017, just 12.1% of global power came from clean sources, 1.1% more than in 2016. Climate change is moving faster than we are. Last year was the second hottest on record and carbon dioxide levels continue to rise. In electricity generation, new renewables still have a long way to go. While renewable generating costs have declined, and governments are phasing-out fossil fuel subsidies– they amounted to a total US$260 billion in 2016 -- the transition needs to accelerate and be complemented by strong private finance that can make sure this global momentum continues.

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United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment)
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6 April 2018

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