European investment in clean energy fell sharply in the first quarter to $7.9 billion, the lowest quarterly level since 2006 and down 62% compared with the first quarter of 2016 which was boosted by a number of large offshore wind projects, the quarterly report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) shows.
Germany and France doubled their clean energy investment, while the UK was down 91% at $1.2 billion mainly as there was no new offshore wind financing to rival last year's crop, BNEF said.
The financial close for the 479 MW Ho he See offshore wind project in the North Sea lifted German investment 96% on the year to $3 billion, while French clean energy investment jumped 145% on year to $1.1 billion with the two nations alone now accounting for over half of Europe's total investment, the BNEF data showed.
Worldwide, clean energy investment totaled $53.6 billion in the first quarter, down 17% from Q1 2016, BNEF said.
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"Q1 this year reflects, once again, the declines in average capital costs per megawatt for wind and solar. This trend means that year-by-year it's possible to finance equivalent amounts of capacity in these technologies for fewer dollars," Bloomberg New Energy Finance CEO Jon Moore said, adding that a 60% drop in offshore wind investment decisions and lower investments in the two biggest markets -- the US and China -- added further downward pressure.
The US saw $9.4 billion invested in Q1, down 24%, and China $17.2 billion, down 11%, BNEF said. BNEF analysts are currently expecting both wind and solar to see similar -- or higher -- numbers of megawatts added this year than last, it said.
According to BNEF, the quarterly data does not include certain categories of investment such as energy storage projects, which will only be reflected in the annual report.
Last year, global investment in renewable energy already fell 18% after reaching a record $329 billion in 2015, the data showed.
According to Platts European Renewable Power Tracker, installed wind and solar capacity in Europe's five biggest markets -- Germany, the UK, France, Spain and Italy -- is now approaching 200 GW with output from those wind turbines and solar panels reaching a new monthly record of over 30 TWh in March.
--Andreas Franke, firstname.lastname@example.org
--Edited by Jonathan Loades-Carter, email@example.com