Words by Leon Kaye Oil prices remain low, the U.S. federal government is still determined to prop up fossil fuels, and populist outrage in France has extinguished its flailing president’s determination to take on climate change. With that context, let’s first lay out the bad news: global clean energy investment declined by 8 percent in 2018 compared to the previous year. The good news? According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), last year was the fifth year in a row that clean technology investment surpassed $300 billion worldwide. Wind power investments increased by 3 percent to $128.6 billion, and offshore wind enjoyed its second-best year ever. Financing in smart-meter technology, as well as electric cars, also witnessed boosts in spending. What, then, explains the drop-off? BNEF’s researchers pointed to a dip in solar power investments, which plunged during 2018 by almost a quarter compared to 2017 levels. Policy changes in China explain much of this decline, as that country’s government sought to tamp down its solar boom by reducing access to its feed-in tariffs. But that drop can also be explained in part by the fact that the capital costs of deploying solar are cheaper than they were just […]

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