The end of energy poverty? Developing nations invest $112 billion in renewable energy
June 28, 2013 Editor 0
From Azerbaijan–where the wind blows 250 days per year–to the swift moving current of Zimbabwe’s bountiful rivers, developing countries worldwide are increasing efforts to invest in renewable energy.
According to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance report released last week, developing countries invested $112 billion in renewable energy programs in 2012, a 19 percent increase. In contrast, the developed world invested $132 billion in renewables, which was a 29 percent decrease. Those figures indicate a significant paradigm shift in renewable energy investment.
“In 2012, the gap between the two in terms of overall investment shrunk to just 18% – suggesting that at some point in the next few years, the majority of renewable energy investment will take place in developing countries.”
China, which lead the way by investing $67 billion in 2012, primarily in solar, certainly played a key role in narrowing this gap, but significant growth in the Middle East and Africa, which collectively saw an astounding 228 percent increase in renewable energy investment, suggests that developing countries will soon outpace the developed world.
Of the 138 countries worldwide that have renewable energy investment programs, two-thirds are in the developing world.
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner explained the reasons for this dramatic shift:
“The uptake of renewable energies continues world-wide as countries, companies and communities seize the linkages between low carbon Green Economies and a future of energy access and security, sustainable livelihoods and a stabilized climate…”
“There have also been sharp falls in manufacturing costs and in the selling prices of wind turbines and photovoltaic panels, contributing to a shake-out in the industry in 2012. This is not only normal in a rapidly growing, high tech industry but is likely to lead to even more competition, with even bigger gains for consumers, the climate and wider sustainability opportunities.”
This is good news for those living in sub-Saharan African nations like Zimbabwe, where up to 80 percent of the population lives off the electrical grid and relies on fossil fuels like wood or coal to sustain themselves. Reliance on these fuels is not only environmentally unsustainable, but it also has profound public health and safety ramifications. Cooking over a smoky open fire indoors is one of the primary causes of respiratory illnesses in many developing countries.
Hopefully, if the trend of increased investments in renewable energy by developing countries continues, energy independence might be realized–a crucial step in lifting people out of poverty.Windmill in Zimbabwe. Photo: Cathy Ratcliff/Mercy Corps
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