Developing Nations ‘Lead the Charge’, Outpace Wealthier Countries in New Clean Energy Capacity
Developing countries are “charging ahead of wealthier nations in the global green energy push,” adding more clean electricity than fossil fuel capacity in 2017 for the first time ever, according to a Bloomberg News report citing the annual Climatescope survey by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
“The findings show a turnaround from a decade ago when the world’s wealthiest nations dominated renewable investment and deployment activities,” the news agency notes. “Many developing countries have an abundance of natural resources and lower equipment costs, allowing new renewable projects to become cheaper than fossil plants.”
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“Just a few years ago, some argued that less-developed nations could not, or even should not, expand power generation with zero-carbon sources because they were too expensive,” said BNEF Climatescope project manager Dario Traum. “Today, these countries are leading the charge when it comes to deployment, investment, policy innovation, and cost reductions.”
The survey revealed that developing countries added 186 gigawatts of new power generating capacity last year, just over half of it from wind and solar. All told, they increased their “zero-carbon capacity” by 114 GW, compared to 63 GW in richer countries, Bloomberg states.
“Middle-income developing countries represent some of the very hottest markets for clean energy deployment today,” the survey concludes. “There is no shortage” of examples of developing nations “where clean energy development has either taken root or is in the process of doing so.”
The survey places clean energy finance to developing countries at US$143 billion in 2017, down from a 2015 peak of $178 billion, National Observer reports. “While emerging markets still rely on power generated predominantly from coal, gas, and oil, 45 of them installed more carbon-free power than fossil fuel capacity—including economic giants China and India. Fossil fuel sources accounted for 40% of capacity in 2017, falling from 66% in 2012.”
Coal-fired generation still stands at 38% of global electricity production, but Climatescope sees it peaking in 2027 and falling to 11% by 2050. “The relative economics of renewables and coal, and the capacity of governments to recognize these tipping points when planning their energy systems, will be fundamental in shaping the decarbonization path of the world, and emerging markets in particular,” the report states.