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Clean energy investments down 17% in Q1

The year-on-year drop in commitments is largely the result of a slowdown in investment in the US and China, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Global clean energy investments are off to a sluggish start this year, down 17 percent compared to the same period in 2016, according to figures from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

BNEF put worldwide totals for clean energy investment in the first quarter at $53.6 billion, only 7 percent less than the final quarter of 2016.

Jon Moore, chief executive of BNEF, blamed the downturn on one of the factors that has attracted more interest in the sector over recent years: declining project costs. “It’s possible to finance equivalent amounts of capacity in these technologies for fewer dollars,” he said.

There has also been lower investment in the US and China, the world’s largest renewables markets. The US saw $9.4 billion invested in Q1 2017, down 24 percent, and China had $17.2 billion, down 11 percent. The UK had an even sharper decline at 91 percent.

Other weak points included a 60 percent year-on-year fall in offshore wind financing. There has been $4.6 billion committed to offshore wind projects this year, $6.9 billion less than last year.

However, German investment in clean energy was up 96 percent year-on-year at $3 billion, France was up 145 percent at $1.1 billion, and Japan was up 36 percent at $4.1 billion. In addition, clean energy investments have been buoyed so far this year by $1.4 billion of public market share issues by electric vehicle pioneer Tesla and a $650 million financing by Enel of its 754MW Villanueva solar project, in Mexico.

At this rate, clean energy investments will likely not come close to matching the all-time high of $348.5 billion in 2015. In 2016, investments totalled $287.5 billion.