Overall investments in renewable energy worldwide reached US$241.6 billion last year, down from $312.2b in 2015. Photo: AP

Global investments in renewable energy fell by almost a quarter in 2016 amid a drop in prices and lower spending in some markets, according to a new UN-backed report.

Overall investments reached US$241.6 billion last year, down from $312.2b in 2015, said the United Nations Environment Program.

But investors got more bang for their buck: renewable energy capacity grew by 138.5 gigawatts, 8 percent more than the 127.5 gigawatts added the year before.

That’s because installing solar, wind and other systems for generating renewable energy became cheaper last year.

China invested $78.3b, about a third less than the previous year — the first drop in over a decade.

US investment dipped by 10 percent to $46.4 billion, as developers paced their projects to take advantage of tax credits. Japan’s investment more than halved to $14.4b last year.

In Europe, spending on renewables increased slightly to $59.8b, driven by big wind power projects in Britain and Germany.

India saw the completion of a massive solar project in Tamil Nadu state in 2016. It will be the world’s biggest until China finishes expanding the Longyangxia Dam photovoltaic complex later this year.

Many countries see renewable energy as an essential part of international efforts to reduce carbon emissions that contribute to global warming.

Investment in power generated from fossil fuels was roughly half that of renewables last year, according to the report, which is based on data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

The proportion of electricity coming from renewable sources, not including large hydropower plants, rose from 10.3 percent to 11.3 percent in 2016.

The European electricity industry association EURELECTRIC announced Tuesday its 3500 members won’t invest in new coal-fired power plants after 2020.

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