New installed PV capacity increased worldwide to 109 GW in 2018, BNEF

Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) reckons that solar installations in 2018 will end up at about 109 GW (compared to 99 GW in 2017), once the final numbers come in during the next few weeks. According to Jenny Chase, head of solar, »the year ahead is likely to see growth to the 125 GW to 141 GW range. Europe is building more PV once again, and India, the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey are continuing to expand their deployments.« The world’s largest PV market, China, is in disarray as the government tries to reconcile future solar support with a deficit in the renewable energy fund of CNY 150 billion ($23.4 billion) at the end of 2017. Meanwhile, new countries »are holding auctions and tenders all the time to buy cost-effective solar power, although governments hoping to set new records may be disappointed in 2019.« Incremental improvements in cost and performance will continue, but the big price fall of last year, on the back of the sudden Chinese slowdown, will not be repeated, says Jenny Chase. Technologies will include floating solar, bifacial modules and combining utility-scale storage with solar.
The biggest solar projects financed in 2018 included the 800 MW »NOOR Midelt« PV and solar thermal portfolio in Morocco, at an estimated $2.4 billion, and the 709 MW »NLC Tangedco« PV plant in India, at a cost of about $500 million.
Global clean energy investment totaled $332.1 billion in 2018, down 8 percent compared to 2017. Last year was the fifth in a row in which investment exceeded the $300 billion mark, says the consultancy. While Wind investment rose 3 percent to $128.6 billion, overall investment in the solar sector dropped 24 percent to $130.8 billion. Part of this reduction was due to sharply declining capital costs.
Chinese solar investment plunged 53 percent to $40.4 billion in 2018. The U.S. investment was at $64.2 billion, up 12 percent. Developers have been rushing to finance wind and solar projects in order to take advantage of tax credit incentives, before these expire early next decade, says Bloomberg: »There has also been a boom, in both the U.S. and Europe, in the construction of projects benefitting from power purchase agreements signed by big corporations such as Facebook and Google.«
Europe saw clean energy investment leap 27 percent to $74.5 billion, helped by the financing of five offshore wind projects in the billion-dollar-plus category. There was also a sharp recovery in the Spanish solar market (clean energy investment $7.8 billion, up sevenfold), helped by heavily reduced costs, and a continuation of the build-out of large wind farms in Sweden ($5.5 billion, up 37%) and Norway ($2 billion, no change) offering low-cost electricity to industrial consumers. Highest investments in Europe were made in Germany at $10.5 billion (down 32 percent), the U.K. at $10.4 billion (up 1 percent) and France at $5.3 billion (up 7 percent). BNEF noted high growth rates in Europe in the Netherlands (investment $5.6 billion, up 60 percent), Denmark ($3.2 billion, up fivefold), Belgium ($2.9 billion, up fourfold), Italy ($2.8 billion, up 11 percent) and Ukraine ($2.4 billion, up 15-fold).

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