A United Nations-backed report has revealed that renewable energy capacity added last year was over double that of growth in fossil fuel capacity, with Chinese solar power responsible for the vast majority of that growth.
Chinese solar power added 53 gigawatts of new energy capacity to the world last year, out of a world total of 98 gigawatts, according to U.N. Environment, the Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre and Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
The past several years have seen China invest heavily in the renewable energy sector, investing US$126.6 billion for 2017. China's clean energy investments comprise a whopping 45 percent of the global total of US$279.8 billion.
The trend has reversed in the United States, with renewable energy investment having fallen by six percent in 2017 to US$40.5 billion. The Trump administration's proposed tariffs on Chinese solar panels are also likely to affect the cost of clean energy in the United States, given that China is now the world's largest producer of low-cost photovoltaic cells.
China's government investments in low-cost clean energy have led to the cost of solar energy falling 15 percent last year to a record US$86 per megawatt hour.
While the United States falls behind, the global China-led trend is clearly leaving behind fossil fuels and moving toward renewable investment. New fossil fuel capacity only reached 70 gigawatts for 2017.
"We are at a turning point... from fossil fuels to the renewable world," Erik Solheim, head of U.N. Environment, told Reuters. "The markets are there and renewables can take on coal, they can take on oil and gas."