2015 brings uptick in renewables investment in India and South Africa

Solar installation in South Africa. Creative Commons: 2014

Solar installation in South Africa. Creative Commons: 2014

In the first quarter of 2015, South Africa and India paved the way for the renewable energy industries, with noticeable uptick in investment in clean energy source.

While the overall global investment in clean energy from the January to March period was down slightly from its 2014, these two countries bucked the trends, with new analysis from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) showing very promising gains.

India’s investment in renewable power rose by 59% to $1.6 billion. The country’s investment in clean energy is expected to be more than $10 billion in 2015, according to BNEF. This represents a bounce back for India after its relatively modest investment of $7.9 billion in 2014.

Bharat Bhushan Agrawal, BNEF’s lead India solar analyst, said:

After two years of continuous decline in investments, in both India and around the world, the trend reversed last year. We expect investment in India to rise in 2015 and later, particularly with the rise of solar power.

India has said that cheaper credit along with foreign investment will help the country fund its ambitious renewable energy program, with it’s goal of reaching 170 gigawatts of clean energy by 2022. This would be a fivefold rise for the nation and would exceed the total power capacity of most other countries.

Of all the renewable sources, India is being especially pro-active in its push toward solar power. Of the 170-gigawatts pledged for 2022, 100 of those gigawatts are expected to be covered by solar.

The government has pledged $100 billion towards it’s solar goals and should India reach these targets for 2022, solar power would account for 10% of its power generation.

Prime Minister Modi ambitious goals for solar include harnessing solar power to bring electricity to every Indian household. Currently more than 400 million people in India still lack access to electricity.

South Africa has become one of the world’s centers of clean energy investment as the country’s investment in renewables surged to $3.1 billion from almost nothing in 2014.

A factor in South Africa’s move toward renewables has been an ongoing power crisis in the country. The nation has experienced a series of electrical blackouts as Eskom, which provides South Africa with 95% of its power, has not been able to keep up with electrical demand.

The blackouts are the result Eskom’s inability to maintain important infrastructure over the past 20 years.

In addition, rapidly rising costs from Eskom have made the citizens of South Africa more interested in harnessing power from the sun.

Because of it’s abundant year round sun, favourable macroeconomic conditions, market potential and user-friendly tendering processes, South Africa has the world’s most attractive emerging solar market, according to a report from global information company IHS.

South Africa has plans to double the amount of renewable power it gets from private companies to 6,300 megawatts.

It has named preferred bidders to build 13 new solar, wind, biomass and hydroelectric plants. These initial bidders will add 121 megawatts of power to the national grid, according to the Department of Energy.

Other countries that also had positive renewable numbers in the first quarter included the UK, which was up by 12% from its 2014 numbers, and the US, up by 2%.

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