Developing Nations Embrace Renewable
Jun 22, 2007 - SciDev.Net/All Africa Global
Developing countries have increased investment
in renewable energy, accounting for one-fifth of
the world's total last year, according to a report
by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)
released today (21 June).
The report states that investment in developing
countries rose from 15 per cent in 2004 to 21 per
cent in 2006.
"[Renewable energy] is a traditional
sector in Europe and the United States, so it is
quite a change globally to see a fast uptake in
developing countries," Eric Usher, head of renewable
energy finance at UNEP, told SciDev.Net.
happened largely in Brazil, China and India with
significant funding of solar, wind and biofuel sectors.
Nine per cent of the investment occurred in China
last year alone, with wind, biomass and waste sectors
the most dynamic. India came second behind China
but was the largest buyer of renewable energy companies
abroad in 2006, the report says.
director of operations at New Energy Finance --
the company that co-authored the report -- said
that both China and India put more money into local
biofuel plants, which are already successful in
Latin America accounted for five per cent
of last year's investment, most of which financed
Brazilian bioethanol plants.
But sub-Saharan Africa
still lagged behind other regions in investment.
Li Junfeng, secretary general of the Chinese Renewable
Energy Industries Association, explained that global
investors are reluctant to put money into poorly
developed and politically unstable African and South-East
"But the whole trend is positive
and will benefit developing countries in many ways,"
Li told SciDev.Net.
The Chinese government's incentives
to ensure more independence in developing renewable
and low-carbon technologies would spur a continual
growth of investment over the next few years, he
The UNEP report states that the world's total
investment in sustainable energy climbed from US$80
billion in 2005 to a record US$100 billion last
year -- with research and development in the field
rising by 25 per cent to $16.3 billion.
reflects the scale of investment -- just two per
cent of the world's energy comes from renewable
sources, yet renewables have captured 18 per cent
of the world's investment in energy generation.
Small-scale projects, such as solar roof panels
and micro turbines, are attracting increasing interest,
says the report, partly from growing opportunities
in developing countries.
The report attributes the
growth to global concerns over climate change and
increasing energy demands and energy security, in
addition to a persistently high oil price, growing
consumer awareness of energy efficiency and government