A total 98 gigawatts of solar energy technology – with 53 gigawatts installed in China – outstripped combined coal, gas and nuclear energies.
More investment – $160.8 billion – was spent on solar energy compared to $103 billion on new coal and gas projects.
The findings were revealed in a Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment report from the United Nations Environment, the Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre, and Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
“It’s pretty amazing,” commented Angus McCrone, chief editor of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, that solar was now ahead of the energy pack company to the near-3 gigawatts of solar energy projects being installed across the world in 2007.
The report said that while China was outstripping every nation in sight, investment in renewable projects in the UK, Germany and the US tailed off.
The US saw renewable investment withdraw by 6 percent to $40.5 billion, and with the Trump administration adding a new solar panel tariff, jobs lost to the sector in 2018 will amount to 23,000.
On the flip side, China was responsible for 45 percent of the $279.8 billion spent on all renewables, and more than half of all new global solar capacity.
China’s boom is being spearheaded by the nation’s solar manufacturing industry, while also tackling pollution and climate change issues.
Mexico, the UAE and Egypt were among developing countries that pushed solar energy takeup as a record 157 gigawatts of renewable power were commissioned worldwide last year.
Renewable energy now accounts for about 12 percent of all global power – equivalent to avoiding 1.8 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions.
“It (this report) shows solar can take on fossil fuels,” Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment, said. “Solar can compete.”