New investment in clean energy in developing countries dropped by more than a fifth last year, shrinking from $169 billion in 2017 to $133 billion in 2018, according to data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. At the same time, the amount of electricity these nations were getting from coal-fired power plants hit a record high — 6,900 terrawatt-hours, or 47 percent of all power generation.
Analysts say the decline in clean energy financing is largely due to a slowdown in China, which invested $86 billion in wind, solar, and other carbon-free technology in 2018, down from $122 billion in 2017. India and Brazil also slashed spending for new renewable energy, cutting $2.4 billion and $2.7 billion, respectively.
Excluding China, India, and Brazil, however, other developing nations’ investments into clean energy actually grew last year, with 36 gigawatts (GW) of new electricity commissioned in 2018, up from 30 GW in 2017. Of the total amount being spent on clean energy in developing nations, just 18 percent, or $24.4 billion, came from sources outside those countries, Bloomberg found.
“The transition from coal toward cleaner sources in developing nations is underway,” Ethan Zindler, head of Americas at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said in a statement. “But like trying to turn a massive oil tanker, it takes time.”