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In 2017, the world added more solar capacity than coal, gas and nuclear power combined. Half of the growth is only in China.

The energy industry will remember 2017 as the year of the sun. Never before have investments in photovoltaic generated so much interest in global finance, reaching dizzying figures and a new growth record: 160.8 billion dollars and more than 98 GW of new solar capacity installed on the planet . A record value that clearly surpasses any other technology, whether renewable or fossil.

The report Global Renewable Energy Investment Trends 2018, prepared by UNEP, the United Nations Environment Program, its research center at the Frankfurt school and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), takes stock of the situation. “The extraordinary wave of investments in photovoltaic energy – explains Erik Solheim, director of UNEP – shows how the world energy map is evolving and, above all, what are the economic benefits of this change”.

The figures in the document speak for themselves: with the new 98 GW of solar power compared to fossil fuels which only added 70 GW. The difference becomes clearer if all renewable sources (except hydropower) are included in the calculation. New green energy in 2017 thus reached 157 GW, which is 87 GW more than coal, gas and oil combined. “We are at a turning point … from fossil fuels to renewable energiesSolheim added.

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More than half of the new capacity belongs to China (more than 53 GW installed at a cost of $ 126.6 billion) and it would be easy to think that the merit of this boom in photovoltaic investments lies only in the generous incentives given by the Chinese Government. But as trends in countries like Australia and Mexico show, falling energy production costs have also played a role. In fact, from 2009 to 2017, large-scale solar LCOE fell 72%, from an average of $ 304 per MWh to $ 86 per MWh.

Much lower costs – explains Angus McCrone, editor of Bloomberg New Energy Finance and lead author of the report – are the driving force behind solar investments around the world“.

Overall, the green energy sector has attracted nearly $ 3 trillion since 2004. “It all shows the direction we have taken – adds Nils Stieglitz, president of the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management – although the fact that renewables are still a long way from meeting most of our electricity needs means we still have a long way to go“. With more years of development behind them and incentives that go far beyond green energy, fossil fuels continue to dominate existing energy capacity. Solar, wind and other renewables have generated somewhat more. of 12% of global electricity in 2017. Much remains to be done.