World invested more in solar power than fossil fuels in 2017

A record 98GW of new solar capacity was installed last year compared to 70GW of fossil fuel generation

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By Priyanka Shrestha

The world has been banking on sunshine as it invested more in solar energy than coal, oil and gas and nuclear last year.

The renewable source attracted $160.8 billion (£115bn) in investment, with a record 98GW of new solar capacity installed, according to a new report from UN Environment, Frankfurt School – UNEP Collaborating Centre and Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

The report suggests solar power made up 57% of the total for all renewables, excluding large hydro, of $279.8 billion (£200bn) and towered above new investment in coal and gas estimated at $103 billion (£73.6bn).

A record 157GW of renewable projects were commissioned last year – up from 143GW in 2016 and far out-stripping the 70GW of fossil fuel generating capacity added – after adjusting the closure of some existing plants.

Developing economies, including China, Brazil and India, committed $177 billion (£127bn) for renewables last year – that’s up 20% compared to $103 billion (£73.6bn) for developed nations.

The falling costs of solar electricity and to some extent wind power is said to continue to drive deployment.

UN Environment Head Erik Solheim said: “The extraordinary surge in solar investment shows how the global energy map is changing and more importantly, what the economic benefits are of such a shift.

“Investment in renewables bring more people into the economy, they deliver more jobs, better quality jobs and better paid jobs. Clean energy also means less pollution, which means healthier, happier development.”