Investment into India’s renewable energy sector were more than the investments made in the conventional energy (fossil-fuel based) projects in 2017. This milestone was the first of its kind, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA)’s World Energy Investment 2018 report.
Per the IEA report, solar PV investment rose to record levels, even with investment costs declining by nearly 15 percent globally, as the share of deployment in historically low-cost regions, such as China and India, continued to rise. Offshore wind investment also rose to record levels, with the commissioning of nearly 4 GW of new plants, mostly in Europe.
The share of investment in a less capital intensive thermal generation has generally declined over time. In 2017, global power sector investments fell by 6 percent to near $750 billion in 2017, mainly the result of a 10 percent slump in the commissioning of new generation capacity. Half of the drop was due to coal-fired power projects, driven by China and India.
India has scrapped many coal-fired projects and has put a stay on many proposed thermal power projects. As of now, the only thermal projects that are utilizing supercritical technology are being approved in India, in order to curb emissions and meet the Paris Climate Agreement’s provisions.
According to the report, “In emerging markets, the average size of awarded solar PV projects in auctions rose by 4.5 times while that of onshore wind rose by half over 2013-17, helping to support economies of scale.”
Investment in grid-scale battery-based energy storage fell to under $600 million in 2017 from over $1 billion in 2016. The overall grid-scale batteries commissioned in 2017 – 600 MW – remained close to that of 2016; the dip in investment stemmed largely from the reduction in battery costs. The United States retook the lead on battery storage deployment – after having been overtaken by Korea in 2016 – followed by Korea and Australia. Asia drove most of the spending in 2016, but delayed tenders in India and fewer projects in Japan limited growth in 2017.The government’s low-carbon energy research development and demonstration (RD&D) spending in 2017 was estimated to have increased by 13 percent in 2017. This is a welcome increase after years of decreases and stagnation.
While most renewable energy investments depend on contracts and regulated instruments, over 35 percent of utility-scale investment is supported by competitive mechanisms, such as auctions, to set prices. Outside China, this share reached a record 50 percent.
Most energy efficiency investments are underpinned by energy performance standards, and a growing amount involves financial incentives. Government purchase incentives for electric cars represented 24 percent of the global spending on electric car sales in 2017 and their combined value is growing at 55 percent per year. The Indian government is helping create an EV market by initiating large-scale demand in the form of procurement for government departments and agencies.
Overall; China, the United States, Europe, and India together accounted for nearly two-thirds of global investment in electricity networks in 2017.
Saumy is a senior staff reporter with MercomIndia.com covering business and energy news since 2016. Prior to Mercom, Saumy was a copy editor at Thomson Reuters. Saumy earned his Bachelors Degree in Journalism & Mass Communication from the Manipal Institute of Communication at Manipal University. More articles from Saumy Prateek.