Bloomberg New Energy Finance experts are predicting that global solar capacity additions made in 2018 will reach 107 gigawatts and that clean energy investment will again hit $330 billion.
Accompanying Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s (BNEF) annual clean energy investment figures published earlier this week was a separate report outlining 10 clean energy predictions for 2018, headed up by BNEF Chief Editor Angus McCrone. Overall, McCrone and his fellow BNEF analysts expect another strong year for the clean energy sector, thanks in part to the “continuing plunge in costs for solar and wind energy, and for lithium-ion batteries” which will open up greater market opportunities for clean power, energy storage, and electric vehicles.
An upswing in the global economy could also spur the transition toward clean energy and transport, but McCrone is careful to point out that there is a “Dark Side” that could disrupt 2018’s high points. Specifically, he points to “the uneasy co-existence of the most buoyant financial markets for more than a decade with the potential for a political or geopolitical shock — perhaps a collision between President Donald Trump and Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election; or a miscalculation on the Korean peninsula; or a military clash between Iran and Saudi Arabia.”
However, the two highlight predictions from the report published on Tuesday are cause for (tentative) celebration.
First off, McCrone predicts that clean energy investment in 2018 will be similar to 2017 levels which, as we reported earlier this week, hit an impressive $333.5 billion last year, up 3% and the second highest annual figure ever. Specifically, McCrone predicts clean energy investment will hit $330 billion in 2018.
Another big prediction comes from BNEF’s head of solar, Jenny Chase, who expects global solar installations in 2018 to hit at least 107 GW (gigawatts). Chase predicts that China will account for between 47 and 65 GW, but that Latin America, south-east Asia, the Middle East, and Africa will all expand their interest in solar and “make up a measurable slice of the total.” Specifically, Chase predicts Mexico will likely install 3+ GW in 2018, and Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan will collectively install between 1.7 and 2.1 GW.
One wonders whether BNEF has got a firm hand on China’s solar ambitions, however, as they significantly underestimated their 2017 capacity additions and explained this week that “China’s boom, which saw an extraordinary 53GW installed in 2017, is still fundamentally irrational.” China represents significant uncertainty for BNEF — as their wide 18 GW spread suggests — given the relatively abnormal demand+supply that is evident in the country. Chase explains that “it looks as if Chinese state-owned developers and investors will build [solar projects] anyway, on the assumption that the government will find a way and, if not, compensation for the power itself will prevent a total loss.” A Renewable Energy Credit that is set to be installed this year might solve some of the “where does the subsidy come from” issues that have befuddled BNEF and other solar analysts.
The third prediction was made by Tom Harries, BNEF’s senior analyst for wind, who expects wind energy’s slow recovery to continue in 2018 and reach a total of 59 GW for the year. The current record for wind capacity additions was made back in 2015’s 63 GW — which was followed by 54 GW in 2016 and 56 GW in 2017. According to Harries, 2018 will spur further development and a new record will be established in 2019 with 67 GW.
The full 10 Predictions for 2018 list can be found here and includes predictions for batteries, electric vehicles, gas and coal, and even autonomous cars.