The headlines of a Think Progress article caught my attention: Industrialized Countries are Now Losing the Clean Energy Race. The article cites figures from a recent UN Environment Program (UNEP) report. For the first time, developing countries are investing more in clean energy projects, in terms of “financial new investment,” than developed countries. Last year, developing countries invested $72 billion invested in renewables while developed countries invested $70 billion. In 2004, financial new investments in developing countries were about one-quarter of those in developed countries.
China invested $48.9 billion in financial new investment in renewable energy in 2010, a 28 percent increase from 2009, making it the world leader in 2010. Here are the figures for other countries and regions:
- South and Central America invested $13.1 billion, a 39 percent increase
- Middle East and Africa invested $5 billion, a 104 percent increase
- India invested $3.8 billion a 25 percent increase
- Asian developing countries, excluding China and India, invested $4 billion, a 31 percent increase
Climate change is expected to hit developing countries the hardest. The Industrial Revolution, which occurred in developed countries, is the cause of the increase in greenhouse gas emissions which causes climate change. How ironic that developing countries are leading in renewable energy investment.
“The investment activity in the developing world is not only leading to innovations in renewable energy technologies. Furthermore, it will open up new markets as first mover investors are facilitating a range of new business models and support entrepreneurship in the developing world,” explained Udo Steffens, President of the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, who helped launch the report with UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner.
“The continuing growth in this core segment of the Green Economy is not happening by chance,” Steiner said. “The combination of government target-setting, policy support and stimulus funds is underpinning the renewable industry’s rise and bringing the much needed transformation of our global energy system within reach.”
There is some good news for all countries: The price of photovoltaic panels per megawatt (MW) decreased 60 percent since mid-2008. Wind turbine prices decreased by 18 percent per MW in the last two years. The report predicts further decreases in solar and wind which pose “a growing threat to the dominance of fossil-fuel generation sources in the next few years.”
Photo: Jim Lawlor