With the plunging prices of clean energy technologies, renewable energy has grown up to be an increasingly attractive prospect for governments around the world. Last year investment in renewable energy was far more expensive than fossil fuel, according to a UN report.
At present, China is the world’s largest renewable energy investor. Compared with 2016, investment in China has increased by 31%, which was primary due to the strong government support for solar energy. At the same time, countries such as Australia, Sweden and Mexico have more than doubled their investment in clean energy projects.
For new renewable energy funds, this is a record year. With the rapid growth of electricity demand in China, renewable energy has gradually become mainstream. UN Environment head Erik Solheim said: “the extraordinary surge in solar investment shows how the global energy map is changing and through this shift can provide people with more job opportunities and higher paying jobs. Clean energy helps to avoid air pollution and can effectively improve people’s lives.”
Prof. Ulf Moslener, a sustainable energy expert, said in an interview that: “Over the past few years, the cost of renewable energy has been declining, especially solar energy, which is very important for China. Due to climate and environmental factors, the Chinese government has been vigorously promoting the development of solar energy.”
In addition to announcing leading indicators for renewable energy investment, the report also revealed that some major countries are falling behind. “Global investment growth has masked the fact that China’s economic growth is strong, the United States has dropped slightly, and European investment has fallen significantly – this is strongly driven by Germany and the United Kingdom.” the professor said.
The UK has been performing well on clean energy power generation. Recent data show that wind energy and solar energy have overtaken nuclear as suppliers of electricity. However, in spite of these positive trends, investment in renewable energy in the UK has dropped by 65% in 2017. The reduction in onshore wind power projects and the decline in government support are the main reasons for its investment decline.
Experts are objecting to the UK’s withdrawal of support for onshore wind power, as previous analysis showed that it already has the ability to use fossil fuels as a source of power. However, as renewable energy prices continue to fall, Professor Moslener said that government subsidies may become less important.
While the data in the new report is encouraging from a global perspective, experts warn that there is still much work to be done.
“The global new solar energy production exceeds the sum of coal, natural gas and nuclear power plants,” said Nils Stieglitz, President of Frankfurt School of Finance & Management. “It shows where we are going, although renewable energy is far from providing most of the electricity, which means we still have a long way to go.”