Global investment falls in first half of 2019

A fall in Chinese clean energy investment as the country moves from government tariffs to an auction system dragged down global spending in the first half of the year, according to new analysis from BloombergNEF (BNEF).

In China, the world's biggest clean energy market, spending fell 39% in the first half of the year (pic credit: Vestas)

The first six months saw a 39% year-on-year fall in renewable energy investment in the world’s biggest market to $28.8 billion, according BNEF figures.

Meanwhile, the global spend of $117.6 billion was down 14% from the first half of 2018. This figure was the lowest global investment total for any half-year period since H1 2013.

While a fall in investments is an indication of the appetite in the market, it does not suggest a fall in capacity as clean energy — particularly wind and solar — are increasingly cheaper, so require lower investments. 

The ‘big three’ of China, the United States and Europe all saw reduced investment levels in H1 2019, with the latter two falling 6% to $23.6 billion and 4% to $22.2 billion, respectively.

Justin Wu, head of Asia-Pacific, for BNEF, said, however, that the Chinese figures for the first half of the year "probably overstate" the severity of the slowdown.

He added that a "rush of new financings" was expected in the second half of the year, following the ongoing nationwide solar auction, and potentially "several big deals in offshore wind".

‘Broad focus’

BNEF highlighted two multibillion-dollar wind projects in a "relatively new market": Wpd’s 640MW Yunlin and Ørsted’s 900MW Greater Changhua wind farms off the coast of Taiwan, which had an estimated combined cost of $5.7 billion.

The analysts claimed this reflected a "broadening geographical focus" of offshore wind activity from Europe’s North Sea and China’s coastline towards new markets such as Taiwan, the US East Coast, India and Vietnam.

This trend was also seen in the analysts' full-year investment figures for 2018.

BNEF also highlighted the $4.2 billion package for a 950MW solar thermal and photovoltaic complex in Dubai as the "biggest financing ever seen in the solar sector".

Mixed fortunes

While investment fell in Europe as a whole, there were contrasting changes in spending levels between countries.

Country H1 2019 investment total Change from H1 2018
China $28.8bn -39%
US $23.6bn -6%
Japan $8.7bn +3%
India $5.9bn +10%
Spain $3.7bn +235%
Sweden $2.5bn +212%
UK $2.5bn +35%
The Netherlands $2.2bn -41%
Germany $2.1bn -42%
Ukraine $1.7bn +60%
Brazil $1.4bn +19%
France $567m -75%

In Spain, investments increased 235% year on year to $3.7 billion, in the UK, they rose 35% to $2.5 billion, in Sweden, they grew 212% to $2.5 billion, and in Ukraine, spending was up 60% at $1.7 billion.

However, spending decreased year on year in the Netherlands, which was down 41% at $2.2 billion, Germany, down 42% at $2.1 billion, and France, down 75% at $567 million.

In other markets, spending in Japan increased 3% to $8.7 billion, in India, it rose 10% to $5.9 billion, and in Brazil, it grew 19% to $1.4 billion.