Solar energy led global investment in new power generation in 2017, according to a United Nations environmental group.

A total of 98 gigawatts of new solar capacity was installed, more than the net additions of any other technology.

Solar technology made up 57 percent of 2017 total for all renewable. Source: WikipediaSolar technology made up 57 percent of 2017 total for all renewable. Source: WikipediaSolar power also attracted $160.8 billion in investment, up 18 percent. Solar technology made up 57 percent of 2017 total for all renewables (excluding large hydro) of $279.8 billion. New investment in coal and gas generation capacity totaled an estimated $103 billion worldwide.

In the United States, investment in all forms of renewable energy dropped 6 percent, coming in at $40.5 billion. In Europe there was a fall of 36 percent, to $40.9 billion, with drops in the United Kingdom (down 65 percent to $7.6 billion) and Germany (down 35 percent to $10.4 billion). Investment in Japan fell 28 percent to $13.4 billion.

Solar in China

A driving power behind the deployment of solar was China, which saw some 53 gigawatts of capacity added – more than half the global total – and $86.5 billion invested, up 58 percent from the prior year.

The Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2018 report, released by UN Environment, Frankfurt School - UNEP Collaborating Centre, and Bloomberg New Energy Finance, finds that falling costs for solar electricity, and to some extent wind power, is continuing to drive deployment. Last year was the eighth in a row in which global investment in renewables exceeded $200 billion.

China was by far the world’s largest investing country in renewables, at $126.6 billion, up 31 percent over 2016.

Investment increases also came from Australia (up 147 percent to $8.5 billion), Mexico (up 810 percent to $6 billion) and in Sweden (up 127 percent to $3.7 billion).

Some 157 gigawatts of renewable power capacity was commissioned in 2017, up from 143 gigawatts in 2016. By comparison, 70 gigawatts of fossil-fuel generating capacity was added (after adjusting for the closure of some existing plants) over the same period.

The current level of electricity generated by renewables corresponds to about 1.8 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions avoided, roughly equal to emissions from the entire U.S. transport system.