With the cost of clean technology continues to fall, the world added record levels of renewable energy capacity in 2016, at an investment level 23 per cent lower than the previous year, says an international research.
The newly commissioned included the Adani Group’s 648-MW solar power plant, the world’s largest solar voltaic project at a single location in Tamil Nadu in India.
Wind, solar, biomass and waste-to-energy, geothermal, small hydro and marine sources added 138.5 gigawatts to global power capacity in 2016, up eight per cent from the 127.5 gigawatts added the year before, said the research entitled ‘Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2017’.
It was published jointly by the UN Environment, the Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre and Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
The research says investment in renewables capacity was roughly double that in fossil fuel generation; the corresponding new capacity from renewables was equivalent to 55 per cent of all new power, the highest to date.
The proportion of electricity coming from renewable, excluding large hydro, rose from 10.3 to 11.3 per cent. This prevented the emission of an estimated 1.7 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide.
The total investment was $241.6 billion, excluding large hydro, the lowest since 2013. This was in large part a result of falling costs: the average dollar capital expenditure per megawatt for solar photovoltaics and wind dropped by over 10 per cent.
“Ever-cheaper clean tech provides a real opportunity for investors to get more for less,” said an official statement quoting UN Environment Executive Director Erik Solheim.
“This is exactly the kind of situation, where the needs of profit and people meet, that will drive the shift to a better world for all,” he added.
New investment in solar totalled $113.7 billion, down 34 per cent from the record high in 2015. Solar capacity additions, however, rose to an all-time high of 75 gigawatts. Wind made up $112.5 billion of investment globally, down nine per cent; wind capacity additions fell to 54 gigawatts from the previous year’s high of 63 gigawatts.
“The investor hunger for existing wind and solar farms is a strong signal for the world to move to renewables,” Frankfurt School of Finance and Management President Udo Steffens said, commenting on record acquisition activity in the clean power sector, which rose 17 per cent to $110.2 billion.
While much of the drop in financing was due to reduced technology costs, the report documented a slowdown in China, Japan and some emerging markets, for a variety of reasons.
Renewable energy investment in developing countries fell 30 per cent to $117 billion, while in developed economies dropped 14 per cent to $125 billion. China saw investment drop 32 per cent to $78.3 billion, breaking an 11-year rising trend.
Mexico, Chile, Uruguay, South Africa and Morocco all saw falls of 60 per cent or more, due to slower than expected growth in electricity demand, and delays to auctions and financings.
Jordan was one of the few new markets to buck the trend, investment there rising 148 per cent to $1.2 billion.
The US saw commitments slip 10 per cent to $46.4 billion, as developers took their time to build out projects to benefit from the five-year extension of the tax credit system. Japan slumped 56 per cent to $14.4 billion.