Offshore wind was the brightest spot in the global clean energy investment picture in 2016 with capital spending commitments to this technology hitting USD 29.9 billion, according to the latest figures from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).
The industry saw a 40% increase in investment in 2016 compared to 2015 figures as developers took advantage of improved economics, resulting from bigger turbines and better construction know-how, BNEF said.
Last year’s record offshore wind tally included the go-ahead for the largest ever project, Dong Energy’s 1.2GW Hornsea array off the UK coast, at a cost of USD 5.7 billion – plus 14 other farms of more than 100MW, worth anywhere between USD 391 million and USD 3.9 billion, in British, German, Belgian, Danish and Chinese waters.
The biggest seven financings in clean energy in 2016 were all in offshore wind in Europe, but there were also large deals in Chinese offshore wind, such as the Hebei Laoting Putidao array, at 300MW and an estimated USD 810 million.
Jon Moore, chief executive of BNEF, said: “The offshore wind record last year shows that this technology has made huge strides in terms of cost-effectiveness, and in proving its reliability and performance. Europe saw $25.8bn of offshore wind investment, but there was also $4.1bn in China, and new markets are set to open up in North America and Taiwan.”
Overall, new investment in clean energy worldwide fell 18% last year to USD 287.5 billion,despite a record year for offshore wind financings, according to BNEF.
Europe was up 3% at USD 70.9 billion in 2016, helped by offshore wind and also by the biggest onshore wind project ever financed – the 1GW, USD 1.3 billion Fosen complex in Norway.
The UK led the European field for the third successive year, with investment of USD 25.9 billion, up 2%, while Germany was second at USD 15.2 billion, down 16%. France got USD 3.6 billion, down 5%, and Belgium USD 3 billion, up 179%, while Denmark was 102% higher at USD 2.7 billion, Sweden up 85% at USD 2 billion and Italy up 11% at USD 2.3 billion.
Even though overall investment in clean energy was down in 2016, the total capacity installed was not. Estimates from BNEF’s analysis teams are that a record 70GW of solar were added last year, up from 56GW in 2015, plus 56.5GW of wind, down from 63GW but the second-highest figure ever.