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Developing nation solar capacity soars

Developing nation solar capacity soars

Developing nation solar capacity is growing rapidly in those emerging markets, a clean energy study finds.

Lower-priced technology and new applications are making renewable energy accessible to millions in developing nations.

According to the Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) report, 34 gigawatts (GW) of new solar-powered generating capacity came on line across 71 countries in 2016.

This was up from 22GW in 2015 and just 3GW in 2011. The total figure has more than tripled in three years.

The use of solar PV is expanding in micro-grids, pay-as-you-go solar energy storage, water pumps and even mobile phone towers.

Start-ups, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists are taking the lead ahead of governments, the study shows.

Solar capacity stumbling blocks in emerging markets

Despite the solar surge, however, BNEF reports some disturbing findings.

These include:

  • The average country score is falling for the first time since the Climatescope study was launched in 2013.
  • Lower clean energy investment and lackluster policy-making is driving lower scores.
  • Total new renewable investment in non-OECD countries fell by $40.2 billion between 2015 and 2016.
  • Only 67% of surveyed countries have feed-in tariffs or auctions to support clean energy projects.
  • Just 18% have domestic policies to reduce carbon emissions.

Yet the massive drop in PV module prices is profoundly impacting developing nations, says Ethan Zindler, Head of Americas for BNEF.

Everything from multi-million-dollar grid projects to small-scale installations is subsequently under way, he claims.

As a result, farmers are boosting yields through better irrigation and Internet connection.

China top of the solar capacity table

According to BNEF, China remains the world’s single biggest market for renewable investment.

Out of the 34GW of solar capacity generated in 2016, China contributed 27GW. This is by far the most of any country. Yet China accounted for three-quarters of the reported decline in renewable investment.

New clean energy investment in the other non-OECD countries also fell 25% from 2015 levels.

Developing nation solar enabled by financing plan initiatives

More than 1.5 million African households bought a solar system on a mobile-money enabled financing plan.

Solar power, end-customer finance and smart technology are also spreading into farms and connectivity hubs.

BNEF’s annual Climatescope survey was released at the BNEF Future of Energy Summit in Shanghai.

News item provided courtesy of Energy Matters Australia