Looking at how the investment is apportioned between countries, a convenient division is between OECD and non OECD. This is a pretty accurate division between developed nations and developing nations. Developed nations have a relatively low growth in overall electricity capacity, with most new generation replacing old generation. Developing nations are growing their overall electricity generation capacity at a rapid rate to balance their rapid GDP growth. Interestingly, from a dollar perspective OECD and non OECD spend about the same on wind and solar, about $100B/y.
Developing nations spend most of the $200B/y that is spent on coal, gas, nuclear and hydro, over 66%. They also spend most of the investment for transmission and distribution, about 66% or $200B/y.
Because of the rapid pace and large scale of development, developing countries follow a well proven path of investing in low risk, proven, safe, and cheap technologies. Developing countries account for the bulk of investment in electricity infrastructure: about $450B/y (200 T&D + 150 G + 100 A)of the $700B/y. (T&D is transmission and Distribution, G is conventional Generation and A is Alternative generation)
All of the OECD invests about $250B/y (100T&D +50G + 100A). In the OECD, wind and solar investment exceeds other generation by a significant margin, but in the non OECD the ratio is reversed.
We are at point where PV is still too expensive to compete without subsidies. So what do Europe and America do? Introduce tariffs to protect domestic producers from Chinese imports. This protection supports already inefficient subsidized industries. What is the incentive to reduce costs through innovation when profits are guaranteed and competition is blocked?
PV at current price levels will not become a significant enough producer of energy to have any affect on reducing CO2 emissions. Perhaps rising PV prices will break the cycle of over optimism about PV and get some focus on investments that might lead to competitive, clean, sustainable sources of electricity.
Investors in Solar projects in the US and Europe think it burnishes their image as responsible planet aware companies when all they are really doing is partaking in corporate welfare on a grand scale. Public funds are subsidizing half the costs of private PV investment and guaranteeing large profits. Their actions prop up inefficient PV industries who rely on subsidies and now protective tariffs. There is little incentive to lower cost to where the PV business can grow without subsidies and perhaps help reducing CO2 emissions. Solar investors are reinforcing the equivalent of fiddling while Rome burns.