This is a very short guide about the countries that invest the most in renewable energy technology.
We’ve also outlined what renewable energy technology they have invested in the most.
Summary – Investment In Renewables By Country
Since 2004, there has been a significant increase in the investment in renewables worldwide overall up until 2010 (from 47 billion USD to just under 250 billion)
2010 up to 2017 is still trending up overall, but investment can be up and down annually, and the increase is slower comparatively (from 237 billion USD in 2010, to just over 300 billion in 2017)
China is the leading country (by total USD) to invest in renewable energy.
China leads by a wide margin too – more than double the second place United States, and in some cases triple, by latest figures (up to 2017)
Chile, South Africa, China, Japan and the UK lead investment in 2015 when considered as % of GDP
Most countries in the world invest less than 1% of their GDP right now in renewables
Wind and solar are the leading renewable energy sources that these countries are
Solar PV was one renewable energy technology that had record levels of investment in 2017
In 2017, fossil fuel subsidies still outweighed renewable energy investment by 11%
In 2017, fossil fuel energy still made up about 80% of global energy – this % share hasn’t changed much over time (even though total renewable energy is increasing)
*Note – investment refers to equipment and infrastructure.
It doesn’t generally include investment costs in research and development.
Also note, investment in renewable energy doesn’t always equal to how much renewable energy makes up the energy mix of that country.
Installed equipment may or may not be pushing all available power into the main power grid depending on transmission technology and infrastructure (plus other factors like exporting renewable energy).
Countries & Regions That Invest The Most Total Money In Renewable Energy Technology
These countries and regions of the world lead in terms of total investment of USD in renewable technology in 2015:
China – 102.9 Billion
Europe – 48.76 Billion
Asia & Oceania (exc. China and India) – 47.56 Billion
United States – 44.11 Billion
Americas (exc. US and Brazil) – 12.83 Billion
Middle East & Africa – 12.47 Billion
India – 10.16 Billion
Brazil – 7.14 Billion
China became the leading destination for renewable energy investment in 2017, accounting for $126.6 billion or 45 percent of global investment
The top 10 countries in total renewable energy investment in 2017 were:
China – 126.6 Billion
United States – 40.5 Billion
Japan – 10.4 Billion
India – 10.9 Billion
Germany – 10.4 Billion
Australia – 8.5 Billion
UK – 7.6 Billion
Brazil – 6 Billion
Mexico – 6 Billion
Sweden – 3.7 Billion
Countries That Invest The Most In Renewable Energy/Technology As A % Of GDP
Renewable energy investment in terms of % of GDP in 2015 was:
Chile – 1.4%
South Africa – 1.4%
China – 0.9%
Japan – 0.8%
UK – 0.8%
India – 0.5%
Brazil – 0.4%
Germany – 0.3%
Mexico – 0.3%
United States – 0.2%
What Renewable Energy Sources/Technology Are Countries Investing In?
Investment in renewable technology by renewable source, in 2016, was:
Solar – 113.7 Billion USD
Wind – 112.5 Billion
Biomass & Waste To Energy – 6.8 Billion
Liquid Biofuels – 2.2 Billion
Small Hydro – 3.5 Billion
Geothermal – 2.7 Billion
* Large hydro isn’t included in these figures.
* Biomass and bioenergy investment has declined over the last decade.
Trends In Renewable Energy Investment Worldwide
From 2004 to 2010, investment in renewables skyrocketed. 2010 to 2017 has seen an overall increasing trend, but the growth hasn’t been as steep, with investment going up and down year to year.
In 2004, the world invested 47 billion USD [in renewables]. By 2015, this had increased to 286 billion USD
… renewable power investment declined in 2017 by 7%, despite record levels of spending on solar PV
Global investment in renewable energy rose two percent to $279.8 billion in 2017, a UN-backed report
There is a good breakdown of the overall investment picture of renewables worldwide up until 2017, and figures on research and development spendage at https://www.iea.org/wei2018/
There’s also a good 2018 breakdown at https://about.bnef.com/blog/clean-energy-investment-exceeded-300-billion-2018/
Other Notes On Renewable Energy Investment
[declining capital and equipment cost can lead to a dip in investment dollars year to year i.e. it becomes cheaper to invest]
[policy change in China led to] Chinese solar investment plunging 53% to $40.4 billion in 2018
[Some of the world leaders in offshore wind investment are the UK, Germany and soon China]
[expiring tax credit incentives can lead to renewable investments being higher one year than the next]
Investment In Renewables vs Subsidies For Fossil Fuels
Globally, subsidies to fossil fuels were up 11 percent between 2016 and 2017, reaching $300 billion a year
… total investment in renewable energy (not including hydropower) was $288.9 billion in 2018 — less than fossil fuel subsidies and an 11 percent decrease from 2017
What Impact Are Renewables Having On Carbon Dioxide Levels?
Through until 2018 and 2019, CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, and CO2 levels in parts per million are still on the rise:
- https://www.wri.org/blog/2018/12/new-global-co2-emissions-numbers-are-they-re-not-good (shows a graph of CO2 emissions from fossil fuels year to year)
- https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/carbon-dioxide/ (shows a graph of updated CO2 ppm in the atmosphere)
Between fossil fuel subsidies, renewables investment and CO2 levels, we perhaps aren’t heading in the direction yet that we might want to be to address climate change and global warming right now.
Renewables are slowly starting to make up a bigger % of electricity, but that % needs to keep increasing, and heating and cooling as well as transport are primarily fossil fuel dominated right now (these sectors need to be powered by renewables or become more efficient over time to become cleaner).
As vox.com notes: “As of 2017, fossil fuels were still providing about 80 percent of humanity’s energy, which is roughly what they’ve been providing for decades. Excluding traditional biomass … you’re left with about 13 percent plausibly climate-friendly energy … That 13 percent needs to get to 100 percent, or close to it, by 2050.”