Global investment in renewable energy (Solar, Wind, Hydro and biofuel) edged up 2% in 2017 to $279.8 billion, taking cumulative investment since 2010 to $2.2 trillion. The level of global renewable power spending has been virtually flat for seven years. There has been an increase in overall installed renewable power each year because of the dropping prices. A 2% increase in spending has resulted in 10% increase in global installations from 2016 to 2017.
A record 157 gigawatts of renewable power capacity was commissioned in 2017, up from 143GW in 2016. This was more than the 70GW of net fossil fuel generating capacity added last year. However, the installed fossil fuel power generates more kilowatt hours because of the low capacity factors of solar and wind power.
Solar alone accounted for 98GW, or 38% of the net new power capacity coming on stream during 2017.
China spent $126.6 billion on renewable power. This was the highest figure ever and more than 45% of the global total. China 53GW installed with solar investment of $86.5 billion, up 58%. Renewable energy investment in the U.S. was down 6% at $40.5 billion. Europe had a decline of 36% to $40.9 billion. The biggest reason was a fall of 65% in U.K. Investment to $7.6 billion, reflecting an end to subsidies for onshore wind and utility-scale solar. Germany also saw a drop in investment, of 35% to $10.4 billion.
Within five years most countries will need expensive energy grid investment to handle more solar and wind.
In some European countries (Ireland, Germany and the United Kingdom), the share of wind and solar in total generation will exceed 25%. In China, India and Brazil, the share of variable generation is expected to double to over 10% in just five years. The increased share of solar and wind means the energy grids will require upgrades, reinforcement and interconnections, storage, demand-side response and other flexible supply to accommodate the higher levels of solar and wind.