Global investments in renewable energy showed a major increase last year after two years of declines.

Major expansion of solar installations in China and Japan and record investments in offshore wind projects in Europe helped propel global 2014 investments to $270 billion, a 17% surge from the 2013 figure of $232 billion.

The 103Gw of generating capacity added around the world made 2014 the best year ever for newly installed capacity, according to the UNEP’s 9th annual Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investments report, prepared by the Frankfurt School-UNEP Centre, and Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

According to the report it was the first annual increase in dollars invested in and committed to renewables (excluding large hydro-electric projects) in three years, a total just 3% below the all-time record of $279 billion set in 2011.

Market dominated by investments in solar and wind

Wind, solar, biomass and waste-to-power, geothermal, small hydro and marine power contributed an estimated 9.1% of world electricity generation in 2014, up from 8.5% in 2013.

“Once again in 2014, renewables made up nearly half of the net power capacity added worldwide” says Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNEP.

“These climate-friendly energy technologies are now an indispensable component of the global energy mix and their importance will only increase as markets mature, technology prices continue to fall and the need to rein in carbon emissions becomes ever more urgent.”

As in previous years, the market in 2014 was dominated by record investments in solar and wind, which accounted for 92% of overall investment in renewable power and fuels.

Investment in solar jumped 25% to $149.6 billion, the second highest figure ever, while wind investment increased 11% to a record $99.5 billion. In 2014, some 49GW of wind capacity and 46GW of solar PV capacity were added worldwide, both records.