New clean energy investment in developing nations slipped sharply last year: report

BEIJING - New clean energy investment slid by more than a fifth in developing countries last year due to a slowdown in China, while the amount of coal-fired power generation jumped to a new high, a recent annual survey showed.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) surveyed 104 emerging markets and found that developing nations were moving towards cleaner power sources, but not fast enough to limit carbon dioxide emissions or the effects of climate change.

New investment in wind, solar and other clean energy projects dropped to $133 billion last year from $169 billion a year earlier, mainly due to a slump in Chinese investment, the research showed.

China’s clean energy investment fell to $86 billion from $122 billion a year earlier. Investment by India and Brazil also declined, mainly due to lower costs for solar and wind.

However, the volume of coal-fired power generation produced and consumed in developing countries increased to a new high of 6,900 terrawatt hours (TWh) last year, from 6,400 TWh in 2017.

The increase of 500 TWh is equivalent to the power consumed in the U.S. state of Texas in one year. Coal accounted for 47% of all power generation across the 104 countries.

“The transition from coal toward cleaner sources in developing nations is underway,” said Ethan Zindler, head of Americas at BNEF. “But like trying to turn a massive oil tanker, it takes time.”

Despite the spike in coal-fired generation, the amount of new coal capacity which was added to the grid in developing countries declined. New construction of coal plants fell to its lowest level in a decade last year of 39 gigawatts (GW).

The report comes a week ahead of United Nations climate talks in Madrid, Spain, where more than 190 countries will flesh out the details of an accord to limit global warming.


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