However, BNEF has given the largest single market China a wide installation range after its massive underestimation past year.
Equipment such as solar panels and wind turbines are getting more affordable as they are increasingly mass-produced. BNEF's most recently revised 2017 forecast for China expects 53GW of installations. Just over half of that world total, or $86.5 billion, was spent in China.
BNEF's preliminary estimates are that a record 160GW of clean energy generating capacity (excluding large hydro) were commissioned in 2017, with solar providing 98GW of that, wind 56GW, biomass and waste-to-energy 3GW, small hydro 2.7GW, geothermal 700MW and marine less than 10MW.
Australia's investment in large wind and solar projects generated an overall increase in clean energy investment of 150% to a record $9 billion.
The clean energy investment total excludes hydro-electric projects of more than 50MW.More news: Britain's EU Withdrawal Bill clears the House of Commons
This figure is a 3% increase on 2016 investment levels, and is noteworthy because solar system costs per MW (at utility scale) are approximately 25% lower than they were in 2015, which remains the record-holder for total investment with $360.3 billion.
"The 2017 total is all the more remarkable when you consider that capital costs for the leading technology - solar - continue to fall sharply", said BNEF chief executive Jon Moore. Nearly half went to solar projects, and China's investment accounted for 40 percent of the total. At the same time, Heggarty said, "Installations have risen significantly, in large part due to the 52 gigawatts of PV installed in China". 53 gigawatts (GW) of new solar PV capacity was installed in the country. Distributed solar there grew from 4 gigawatts in 2016 to over 18 gigawatts past year, according to GTM Research. "The NEA's Poverty Alleviation Program, created to incentivize the installation of solar PV in impoverished areas of China, has also contributed to the impressive levels of growth". This happened for two main reasons: first, despite a growing subsidy burden and worsening power curtailment, China's regulators, under pressure from the industry, were slow to curb build of utility-scale projects outside allocated government quotas. Both BNEF and GTM Research projected China's market would see 2017 installations around 30 gigawatts.
China's insatiable appetite for solar power led to a surprise increase in global clean-energy investment previous year even as U.S. President Donald Trump pushed to undermine pollution rules and curbs on coal. When looked at as a whole, Europe's clean energy investment dropped 26% to only $57.4 billion.
"After China, the next biggest investing country was the US, at $56.9 billion, up 1 per cent on 2016 despite the less-friendly tone towards renewables adopted by the Trump administration", BNEF said in a statement released along with its report on annual figures based on its database of projects and deals. Japan's investment in solar and wind fell 16% in 2017, but still registered a healthy $23.4 billion, while the figures for Germany and the United Kingdom were 26% and 56% contraction respectively, equal to investments of $14.6 billion and $10.3 billion.