Total global energy investment fell by 2% in 2017, totalling $1.8 billion according to the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Investment 2018 report which was published this week, which also showed $750 billion was spent on the electricity sector, compared to only $715 billion on oil & gas supply, while investment in renewables and energy efficiency fell by 3%.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) published its annual World Energy Investment report on Tuesday in which it details spending across the global energy sector, including grids, oil & gas, electricity, and renewable energy and energy efficiency. According to this year’s report, total investment in 2017 reached $1.8 billion, down 2% in real terms from 2016 which itself was down 12% on 2015.
This year’s report was highlighted by the continued electrification of the energy sector, with $750 billion going towards electricity compared to only $715 billion being invested in oil and gas supply globally. Conversely, however, the combined global investment into renewable energy and energy efficiency fell by 3% in 2017 and, according to the IEA, there’s a risk it could fall further in 2018. Specifically, investment in renewable power declined by 7% in 2017 to nearly $300 billion, but still accounted for two-thirds of power generation spending.
Renewable energy investment was driven by record spending for solar PV around the globe, but particularly in China, which accounted for 45% of solar PV investments in 2017. Offshore wind also saw record levels reached, however, and 4 gigawatts (GW) worth of new capacity was commissioned, mostly in Europe. However, onshore wind investment levels fell by 15% largely due to the United States, China, Europe, and Brazil, former juggernauts of onshore wind energy investments.
Energy efficiency levels remained relatively immune to the downward trend in energy investment, with a total of $236 billion invested into energy efficiency efforts across buildings, transport, and industry throughout 2017. However, while the energy efficiency sector grew, it only grew by 3% in 2017 despite previous stronger growth.
“Such a decline in global investment for renewables and energy efficiency combined is worrying,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director. “This could threaten the expansion of clean energy needed to meet energy security, climate and clean-air goals. While we would need this investment to go up rapidly, it is disappointing to find that it might be falling this year.”
In addition to declining investment in the combination of renewable power and energy efficiency, the share of fossil fuels in energy supply investment figures rose for in 2017 for the first time since 2014, with spending in oil and gas increasing by a modest margin. Happily, however, final investment decisions for new coal power plants declined for the second-straight year, and only reached a third of their 2010 level. Nevertheless, the global coal fleet continued to expand in 2017 due primarily to markets throughout Asia.
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