The global solar power shift

17th Jun 2013

Solar power is increasingly being adopted in developing countries and its balance of power is shifting, according to a new report.

Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2013, the report released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and commissioned by Frankfurt School-NEP Collaborating Centre, is based on data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

The report revealed some slightly disappointing news, such as that investment in renewable energy was US$244.4 billion in 2012, down 12 per cent on 2011's record of $279 billion.

Total investment in clean energy, which includes renewable energy but with the addition of investment in smart technologies such as smart grids, energy efficiency, power storage and more, came in at $266.9 billion in 2012, again down 12 per cent on 2011's figure of $303.1 billion.

This may reflect the winding down in developed countries of many feed-in tariffs and incentive programs, paired with dramatically lower solar prices.

There are many examples of feed-in tariffs and incentives being reduced or coming to a close in Australia with states such as Queensland lowering solar rebates for new customers.

So while some countries are experiencing a bit of a solar downward buzz, developing countries are seeing solar soar. Investment in renewables in the global South is increasing rapidly and closing the gap between developing and developed nations.

In particular, China is making huge strides pumping money into solar power, and renewable investment also experienced significant increases in South Africa, Morocco, Mexico, Chile and Kenya.

The Middle East and Africa are particularly strong regions for growth, which is promising for the UN Secretary General's Sustainable Energy For All initiative. This initiative aims to achieve universal access to modern energy services as well as to double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency, and the share of renewable energy in the global mix by 2030.

"The uptake of renewable energies continues worldwide 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 stabilised climate," said Achim Steiner, UNEP executive director.

While developing nations are now getting amongst the renewable market, the future for solar power in Australia still looks strong. You just can't go past our endless supply of sun and the popular support for cleaner technologies right in our backyard.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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