Overall, despite weakness in the early months of 2019, the rise of onshore wind power in the United States and offshore wind power in China and Europe in particular led to investment in renewable energy throughout the year.
The late surge in offshore wind power financing brought investment in the sector to $29.9 billion, up 19 per cent from 2018 and $2 billion from a record year in 2016.
Tom Harries, head of wind energy research at BNEF, said: "Offshore wind energy developers in mainland China have proposed 15 projects, exceeding expectations. We expect the global momentum of the industry to continue in 2020, focusing on megawatt projects in the North Sea in the UK and the first commercial projects off the east coast of the United States. "
Judging from overall renewable energy capacity investment data in 2019, wind energy, both on land and at sea, led the way with $138.2 billion, up 6 per cent. Solar energy followed, at $131.1 billion, down 3 per cent from a year earlier. Falling capital costs for wind and solar power mean that the combined cost of wind and solar energy is likely to increase by about 180 gigawatts in 2019, or about 20 gigawatts more than in 2018.
In other clean energy, investment in the conversion of biomass and waste into energy rose 9 per cent to $9.7 billion in 2019. Geothermal projects fell 56 per cent to $1 billion; biofuels fell 43 per cent to $500m; and small hydropower fell 3 per cent to $1.7 billion.
In terms of countries and regions, China is once again the largest investor in clean energy, reaching $83.4 billion in 2019, down 8 per cent from a year earlier and the lowest level since 2013. Of this total, investment in wind power rose 10 per cent to $55 billion, while solar energy fell 33 per cent to $25.7 billion, less than 1/3 of the most prosperous 2017.
The US is the second largest investor in clean energy capacity, at $55.5 billion, up 28 per cent from 2018. This has played an important role in the race between wind and solar developers to secure federal tax credits that will be delisted in 2020.
Ethan Zindler, head of BNEF America, said: "it is worth noting that in the third year of Trump's presidency, there was no special support for renewable energy, and US clean energy investment still set a new record. The previous highest year of investment was $45.7 billion in 2017, Trump's first year in office. Renewable energy technologies are more cost-competitive than ever. "