Global clean energy investments in 2018 totaled $332.1 billion, an 8% decrease, but the fifth consecutive year that investments have exceeded $300 billion. In Europe, clean energy investments jumped 27% to $74.5 billion. Global venture capital and private equity investments reached their highest levels since 2010, leaping a staggering 127% to $9.2 billion.
The greatest changes were in the solar sector, with total solar investments falling 24% to $130.8 billion. This was largely due to falling capital costs and major policy changes in China, with the Chinese government dampening the solar boom in the country by limiting access to new initiatives for its feed-in tariff. Because of this, China’s solar investment in 2018 plummeted 53% to $40.8 billion.
Offshore wind projects received solid investments in 2018 totaling $25.7 billion, a 14% increase. Onshore wind initiatives received $100.8 billion in investments, but this reflects only a 2% increase. Other renewable energy sectors that received significant investments in 2018 were biomass and waste-to-energy, with investments increasing 18% to $6.3 billion, as well as biofuels, for which investments grew 47% to $3 billion. Investments in the geothermal sector also increased, jumping 10% to $1.8 billion. However, investments in small hydro, and utility-scale renewable energy projects and small-scale solar systems around the world declined in 2018, slipping 50% and 13% to $1.7 billion and $266.5 billion, respectively.
Corporate R&D spending on clean energy in 2018 also dropped, falling 6% to $20.9 billion. Government R&D spending, however, grew 4% to $15 billion. Public market investments in specialist clean energy companies climbed 20% to $10.5 billion. China led the renewable energy market in 2018, but its $100.1 billion in investments was down 32%.