By - Jim Vess

U.S. sets a renewable investment record as global investment stalls, BNEF says

Energize Weekly, January 22, 2020

U.S. renewable energy investment surged in 2019 to a record $55.5 billion, a 28 percent year-on-year increase, helping global renewable energy investment post a modest 1 percent rise to $282.2 billion, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

Investment in China, the world’s largest renewable energy market, was down 8 percent to $83.4 billion, the lowest it has been since 2013.

Wind investments in China rose 10 percent to $55 billion, but solar fell 33 percent to $25.7 billion, less than a third of the peak figure hit in 2017.

Europe also fell behind the U.S. in 2019, investing $54.3 billion in renewables capacity, a 7 percent drop.

The U.S. growth was spurred by wind and solar developers pushing projects to qualify for federal tax credits, which are slated to be scaled down in 2020.

“It’s notable that in this third year of the Trump presidency, which has not been particularly supportive of renewables, U.S. clean energy investment set a new record by a country mile,” Ethan Zindler, head of Americas for BNEF, said in a statement.

Zindler said that the second-highest year for investment, $45.7 billion, came in Trump’s first year in office, 2017.

“These technologies are more cost-competitive than ever, and the fact that there was a tax credit step-down on the horizon made the market particularly busy in 2019,” Zindler said.

Global investment posted an investment increase mainly due to a surge in offshore wind projects during the second half of the year worth $29.9 billion, BNEF said.

Projects reaching financial closure in the fourth quarter included the $4 billion, 432-megawatt (MW) Neart Na Gaoithe array off the Scottish coast; the $2 billion 376-MW Formosa II Mialo project off Taiwan; and the $1.5 billion, 500-MW Changle C installation in the East China Sea.

“We expect the sector’s global momentum to continue in 2020, with the focus on gigawatt-scale projects in the British North Sea and the first commercial arrays off the U.S. East Coast,” Tom Harries, head of wind research at BNEF, said in a statement.

Among other top performing countries were Spain with a 25 percent increase to $8.4 billion in investments and Brazil, where renewable energy capacity investments rose 74 percent to $6.5 billion.

On the downside, United Kingdom investments dropped 40 percent to $5.3 billion, the lowest in 12 years, and Germany was down 30 percent to $4.4 billion, a 15-year low.

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