By Anders Lorenzen
The developed world has lost its lead in clean energy. So says the latest edition of Climatescope, a clean energy investment index released by the clean energy analysts Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).
Key findings in the index indicate that a key group of emerging nations constructs 18% more clean energy capacity than wealthier countries, and four out of five have now also set national clean energy targets. Climatescope analysed clean energy activity in 58 emerging markets in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, including the major developing countries China, India, Egypt, Pakistan, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa plus a dozen others.
These findings further challenge the reasons often given by some western politicians trying to delay action on climate change who say that they will not act until China does. The Climatescope research backs up other research that China is, in fact, leading the pack.
In 2015 the developing nations above added a staggering 69.8 gigawatts (GW) of new clean energy capacity in the shape of wind, solar, geothermal, and other renewable power generating infrastructure – equivalent to the total installed capacity in Australia today. China, as expected, is leading the pack. But smaller nations are also playing important roles, with Chile, Honduras, Kenya, Mexico and Uruguay having recorded the greatest improvement. By comparison, wealthier countries of the Organisation for Economic and Co-operation and Development (OECD) built 59.2 GW in the same year.
Climatescope also found that a new breed of entrepreneur is revolutionising how energy access issues are addressed in the least developed nations. This ranged from solutions using “off-grid” or “mini-grid” models. Here the new players are challenging the assumption that only an expanded hub-and-spoke power grid can meet the needs of 1.2bn of the world’s population which lacks access to power. In this field, a range of new startups emerged through 2015 which accumulated funding worth $450 million.
But while the clean energy investment index demonstrates that new clean energy capacity in the developing world has overtaken that in OECD countries, it is investors in OECD countries who are enabling this to happen as they’re providing nearly half of the capital needed.
Regardless of political events in the western world, it is likely the clean energy world will remain unfazed. The developed world is scaling up investments, showing clear signs of the resilience of the ever growing clean energy investment landscape.