Total global corporate funding for solar-sector energy projects fell to $9.1 billion in 2016, a 64% decline from 2015 investment levels, according to a report issued by a key industry consultancy.

However, that decline is not expected to impact levels of 2017 esoteric solar contract securitizations, which to date have been relatively small and primarily focus on the small-but-growing sector of homeowner loans and residential installations.

Mercom Capital Group, a communications and consulting firm in the global clean energy space, says funding declined from $25.3 billion in 2015, the third highest level since 2010. The decline in disclosed financing from venture capital, private equity, debt financing and public-market financing last year is the first year-to-year decline in five years.

“It was a challenging year for solar companies in terms of fundraising even as demand is expected to reach an all-time high,” stated Raj Prahbu, chief executive and co-founder of the U.S.-based firm.

Prabhu was optimistic the industry will see better outcomes in 2017, as the industry excepts “lower module prices...to boost installation levels,” he said, according to a release

The largest decline was in debt financing, where $6 billion was raised compared to $18.3 billion in 2015. Public market financing declined to $1.8 billion from the $6 billion level the year prior.

Global venture capital investments were slightly higher at $1.25 billion last year, compared to $1.1 billion over 83 deals the year prior.

Mercom noted only three securitization deals last year, with U.S.-based SolarCity raising $234.6 million in two of the deals. Mercom and Moody’s Investors Service – which estimated 2016 ABS volume at $242 million – do not include financing raised through Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs that provide individual homeowners with funds for energy-efficient upgrades, including solar panel installations.

Moody’s in December forecast growing levels of solar-ABS issuance in 2017 as residential solar photovoltaic (PV) system prices decline and more homeowners originate solar loans, which offer more appeal than leases and power purchase agreements because of available tax credits.

Moody’s cited research from GTM Research projecting that this year customers will own more than half of new residential solar PV systems.

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