Global new investment in renewable power and fuels (not including hydropower projects larger than 50 megawatts (MW)) totalled USD 279.8 billion in 2017, as estimated by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF)i. This represents an increase of 2% compared to the previous year, even as the costs of wind and solar power technologies fell furtherii. Investment in renewable power and fuels has exceeded USD 200 billion annually since 2010. ( See Figure 48 and Reference Table R26.) Investment in hydropower projects larger than 50 MW was an estimated additional USD 45 billion in 2017iii.1

Global new investment in renewable power and fuels reached

billion USD

in 2017

These estimates do not include investment in renewable heating and cooling technologies, for which data are not collected comprehensively. The International Energy Agencyiv reports that global investment in solar thermal heating technologies increased steadily until 2013 but then fell each year through 2016 (latest data available).2

Investment in new renewable power capacity (including all hydropower) was three times the level of investment in fossil fuel generating capacity and more than double the investment in fossil fuel and nuclear capacity combined.

Note: Figure does not include investment in hydropower projects larger than 50 MW. Investment totals have been rounded to nearest billion and are in current USD.
Source: BNEF.

Investment in renewable energy continued to focus on solar power, particularly solar photovoltaics (PV), which increased its lead over wind power in 2017. Asset finance of utility-scalev projects, such as wind farms and solar parks, dominated investment at USD 216.1 billion worldwide. Small-scale solar PV installations (less than 1 MW) accounted for USD 49.4 billion, representing an increase of 15%.

Developing countries extended their lead over developed countries in 2017, with


of global investment in renewable energy

Renewable energy investment in developed countriesiii as a group fell 19% in 2017. Investment decreased in the two developed-country front-runners, the United States and Japan, as well as in the leading European countries, Germany and the United Kingdom. Among developing and emerging countries, renewable energy investment increased 20%, to USD 177 billion.

China played a dominant role, investing USD 126.6 billion,its highest figure ever. Substantial increases in developing countries were witnessed in Mexico, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Argentina.


i This chapter is derived from United Nations Environment’s Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2018 (Frankfurt: 2018), the sister publication to the GSR, prepared by the Frankfurt School–UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance (FS-UNEP Centre) in co-operation with Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). Data are based on the output of the Desktop database of BNEF, unless otherwise noted, and reflect the timing of investment decisions. The following renewable energy projects are included: all biomass and waste-to-energy, geothermal and wind power projects of more than 1 MW; all hydropower projects of between 1 and 50 MW; all solar power projects, with those less than 1 MW estimated separately and referred to as small-scale projects or small-scale distributed capacity; all ocean energy projects; and all biofuel projects with an annual production capacity of 1 million litres or more. For more information, please refer to the FS-UNEP Centre/BNEF Global Trends Report. Where totals do not add up, the difference is due to rounding.i

ii Note that declining costs of some renewable energy technologies (particularly solar PV and wind power) have a downward influence on total dollar investment (all else being equal). Thus, changes in investment (monetary) do not necessarily reflect changes in capacity additions.ii

iii Investment in large-scale hydropower (>50 MW) is not included in the overall total for investment in renewable energy. Similarly, investment in large-scale hydropower is not included in the chapter figures, unless otherwise mentioned.iii

iv Methodologies for calculating investment in solar thermal heating and cooling technologies differ across institutions, and therefore data are not comparable.iv

v “Utility-scale” in this chapter refers to wind farms, solar parks and other renewable power installations of 1 MW or more in size, and to biofuel production facilities with capacity exceeding 1 million litres.v

vi Developed-country volumes are based on OECD countries excluding Chile, Mexico and

Investment by Economy

Investment by Technology

Investment by Type

Renewable Energy Investment in Perspective

Sources of Investment