Solar power expected to break records in 2018 despite investment fall

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New data for the first quarter of 2018 have shown an initial drop in investment for clean energy.

Analysis from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) has found global investment reached $61.1 billion over the first three months of 2018, a 10 percent drop on the same time last year.

Solar power also saw a 19 percent decline in investment, although wind power increased by 10 percent.

Despite the drop-off in solar commitment, BNEF anticipates the technology to outstrip the record high of 98 gigawatts (GW) of capacity installed worldwide in 2017.

Jenny Chase, head of solar for BNEF, said: “We expect the world to install even more solar this year than last year’s record of 98GW. Two of the main drivers are the ongoing boom in China for both utility-scale and smaller, local PV systems, and the financing of very large solar parks in other developing countries as cost-competitiveness continues to improve.”

Developing countries provided the best news for the solar industry in the early months of 2018; for example, a huge 800 megawatt (MW) project in Morocco, called Noor Midelt, recently reached financial close. The site, estimated to cost $2.4 billion, is a mix of solar PV and thermal with added storage capabilities.

Other highlights included a 709MW solar PV project in India, which brought forward $660 million, and a 404MW solar farm in Northern Mexico starting construction in February.

Overall, China continued to attract the bulk of new clean energy investment, tallying $26 billion, although this huge figure actually represented a 27 percent decline on 2017’s opening months. In contrast, the US continued to fare well with $10.7 billion pumped into renewable projects.

Bloomberg reported earlier this year that 2017’s final figure for clean energy investment stood at $333 billion. It remains to be seen if 2018 can match that high. Abraham Louw, an investment analyst at BNEF, concludes that: “it’s too early to predict a fall in annual investment this year…we expect to see the financing of a number of big-ticket offshore wind projects in UK, Belgian, Dutch and Danish waters during the months ahead.”

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