Global investment in renewable power and fuels (not including hydropower projects larger than 50 megawatts (MW)) totalled USD 288.9 billion in 2018, as estimated by BloombergNEF (BNEF)i. This was 11% less than the USD 326.3 billion invested in 2017. However, 2018 was the ninth successive year in which investment in renewables exceeded USD 230 billion, and the fifth in which it topped USD 280 billion. (→ See Figure 47 and Reference Table 25.) In addition, an estimated USD 16 billion was invested in large hydropower projects in 2018, down from USD 40 billion in 2017ii.
Global investment in renewable power and fuels reached
The overall investment in renewable power capacity (including all hydropower) in 2018 once again far exceeded that in fossil fuel and nuclear power capacity. The total dollar amount invested in renewable power was almost exactly three times higher than the amount invested in new coal- and gas-fired generators combined.
Investment in renewables continued to focus on solar power, which secured USD 139.7 billion in 2018. This was down 22% from 2017, due largely to lower unit costs for solar power and to changes in China’s photovoltaic (PV) marketiii. Although wind power investment continued to lag behind solar power, it increased 2% in 2018, to USD 134.1 billion. The other sectors were further behind, although investment in biomass and waste-to-energy increased 54%, to USD 8.7 billion.
Investment in China, the country that attracts the most renewable energy investment by far, fell sharply from its record high in 2017. The next-largest investments were in the United States, Japan and India. A total of 19 countries had investments of more than USD 2 billion each, including, for the first time, Ukraine and Vietnam.
iData in this chapter are based on the output of the BNEF Desktop database 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 megawatt (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 power projects; and all biofuel projects with an annual production capacity of 1 million litres or more. Where totals do not add up, the difference is due to rounding.i
iiInvestment 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.ii
iiiNote 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 monetary investment do not necessarily reflect changes in capacity additions.iii