Investment in renewable energy capacity reaches $282 bn

Duke Energy Renewables

Investment in renewable energy capacity rose 1 percent to $282.2 billion in 2019 as against $280.2 billion in 2018, according to a research report from BloombergNEF.

Wind capacity investment rose 19 percent to $29.9 billion.

Wind (onshore and offshore) investment rose 6 percent to $138.2 billion.

Among the offshore projects reaching financial close in the fourth quarter were the 432MW Neart na Gaoithe array off the Scottish coast at $3.4 billion, the 376MW Formosa II Miaoli project off Taiwan at $2 billion and the 500MW Fuzhou Changle C installation in the East China Sea, at $1.5 billion.

The first of France’s offshore wind projects to be financed, the 480MW, $2.5 billion Saint Nazaire, got its go-ahead in the third quarter.

“Offshore wind developers in China brought forward 15 projects to beat a scheduled expiry of that country’s feed-in tariff. We expect the sector’s global momentum to continue in 2020, with the focus on gigawatt-scale projects in the British North Sea and the first commercial arrays off the U.S. East Coast,” Tom Harries, head of wind research at BNEF, said.

Solar investment fell 3 percent to $131.1 billion. Falling capital costs in wind and solar meant that the two combined are likely to have seen around 180 gigawatts added last year, up some 20GW on 2018.

Biomass and waste-to-energy investment rose 9 percent to $9.7 billion. Geothermal investment dropped 56 percent to $1 billion. Biofuels fell 43 percent to $500 million. Small hydro dipped 3 percent to $1.7 billion.

China’s investment in renewables dropped 8 percent to $83.4 billion in 2019. China saw a 10 percent rise in wind investment to $55 billion, but solar fell 33 percent to $25.7 billion, less than a third of the boom figure reached in 2017.

The U.S. investment in renewable energy capacity rose 28 percent to $55.5 billion – driven by wind and solar developers to qualify for federal tax credits that were due for scale-back in 2020.

Europe’s renewable energy investment slipped 7 percent to $54.3 billion. Spain led the way with $8.4 billion, up 25 percent on 2018 and the highest annual figure for that country since 2011.

Pietro Radoia, senior associate for solar at BNEF, said: “The $6 billion of solar investment in Spain in 2019 is impressive because these projects are going ahead at record-low costs per megawatt.”

The U.K. invested $5.3 billion in renewable energy, down 40 percent. Germany was down 30 percent at $4.4 billion, its lowest since 2004, and Sweden was down 19 percent at $3.7 billion, but the Netherlands were up 25 percent at $5.5 billion, France 3 percent higher at $4.4 billion, and Ukraine 56 percent up at $3.4 billion.

Japan invested $16.5 billion in renewable capacity, mainly solar, in 2019, down 10 percent, while Australia committed $5.6 billion, down 40 percent.

India put $9.3 billion into green energy, 14 percent less than in 2018. United Arab Emirates invested a record $4.5 billion – almost all of it for the 950MW Al Maktoum IV solar thermal and photovoltaic complex in Dubai.

In Latin America, Brazil lifted renewable energy capacity investment by 74 percent to $6.5 billion last year, while Mexico committed $4.3 billion, up 17 percent, and Chile $4.9 billion, up fourfold, and Argentina $2 billion, down 18 percent.