With New Pledges and New Projects, Developing Countries Take Clean Energy Lead Globally
Developing countries have made unprecedented pledges to consume more clean energy tomorrow even as they are leading the way today with record new wind and solar project completions, the latest edition of Climatescope concludes. Climatescope, the clean energy country competitiveness index and online tool supported by the UK and US governments offers a compelling portrait of clean energy activity in 58 emerging markets in Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean. The group includes major developing nations China, India, Egypt, Pakistan, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa, as well as dozens of others. Visitors to www.global-climatescope.org can use the site to learn about clean energy policy and activities in individual nations, download extensive datasets, and compare countries on their performance.
This marks the third year Climatescope has been conducted globally and reflects activity in 2015, a year that culminated with the signing of the Paris Climate Agreement at UN-sponsored talks in December. In the run-up to those negotiations, three quarters of the Climatescope nations submitted or reiterated pledges to cut their future CO2 emissions. An even higher number are now on record with promises to achieve certain clean energy consumption goals in coming years. These countries are not waiting to get started on adding renewable capacity, however. Between them, they added 69.8 gigawatts of new wind, solar, geothermal, and other renewable power generating capacity in 2015 – the same as total installed capacity in Australia today. China accounted for the majority of activity in Climatescope countries, but smaller nations also played important roles. By comparison, wealthier Organisation for Economic and Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries built 59.2 gigawatts last year.
Among Climatescope’s other key findings:
· Steep solar equipment cost declines are catalysing build and driving growth. Investment in utility-scale solar in Climatescope nations spiked 43% to $71.8bn in 2015. Tenders held for power-delivery contracts have highlighted that photovoltaics (PV) can now compete against and beat fossil-fuelled projects on price in some nations.
· Cheap solar, innovative business models, and a new breed of entrepreneurs are revolutionizing how energy access issues are addressed in least developed nations. New players focused on “off-grid” or “mini-grid” solutions are challenging the assumption that only an expanded hub-and-spoke power grid can meet the needs of the world’s 1.2bn with inadequate access to power. A slew of these start-ups are privately-funded and between them had raised over $450m cumulatively through year-2015.
· Developed economies are accelerating funding for clean energy in emerging markets. Private investors, lenders, and development finance institutions in OECD countries accounted for nearly half of all capital to Climatescope countries (excluding China, where virtually all capital was provided locally). This is up from the roughly one third of capital provided in 2012.
· Some Climatescope countries with the highest rates of clean energy penetration are beginning to encounter integration challenges. Some have seen projects completed before sufficient transmission could be built. Others have not prioritized clean electrons from wind or solar projects in their grids over those from coal-fired plants.
· Improving conditions and rising ambitions are reflected in higher scores achieved by the majority of countries surveyed under Climatescope. The project scores countries on a 0-5 basis based on the conditions they create for fostering clean energy development. Across all countries, the average rose from 1.14 last year to 1.35 while the number of countries scoring above 2 jumped from two to 10. As in the past two years, China once again topped the list of all countries. Chile, Honduras, Kenya, Mexico and Uruguay are the top scorers that recorded the most improvement.
The UK Government Department for International Development (DFID) is focused on promoting economic development opportunities to help developing countries lift themselves out of poverty and, with the US Agency for International Development (USAID), have, commissioned Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) to analyze and rank development prospects for solar, wind, small hydro, geothermal, biomass, and other zero-carbon emitting technologies (excluding large hydro). In many developing countries a lack of reliable energy inhibits economic growth. The report provides the research needed to drive investment into developing economies and to secure clean, stable energy supplies for millions of the world’s poorest people.
A country’s ranking depends upon various factors: its clean energy investment policy, its market conditions, the structure of its power sector; the number and makeup of local companies operating in clean energy; and efforts toward reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The final output is the most comprehensive, one-stop source for decision makers to learn more about the market conditions for clean energy in these regions. All of the research is easily accessed at global-climatescope.org, which includes an interactive tool for users to pinpoint specific information, from the most granular country details to specific sector analysis. The website also allows for complete downloads of the Climatescope data in Excel format.