Emerging markets deployed more GW of renewables than developed nations in 2015, finds BNEF

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A report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) has found that the center of the “clean energy universe” has shifted decisively from north to south, with analysis found in its latest Climatescope report revealing that the world’s developing nations installed more clean energy capacity in 2015 than the 35 richest countries.

The 35 wealthiest nations, defined as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, installed 59.2 GW of renewable capacity in 2015, compared to the 69.8 GW of new clean energy capacity added by 58 emerging-market economies, found the report.

China’s presence in the latter group served to skew that data somewhat, helping these non-OECD countries attract more investment in renewables ($154.1 billion) than the OECD countries ($153.7 billion).

Of that $154.1 billion figure, more than $70 billion was invested in utility-scale solar in 2015. This represents a 43% increase on 2014 investment figures, with solar accounting for more than half of the year-on-year growth between 2014 and 2015.

The BNEF data shows that solar comprised 19.6 GW of the 69.8 GW of clean energy capacity installed in 2015 by the 58 Climatescope countries, with wind power comprising 39.5 GW. However, in terms of clean energy investment, the two technologies were pretty much neck-and-neck, with solar attracting $71.8 billion and wind $73.3 billion. The data also showed that large-scale solar PV in these 58 nations is now as cheap as wind, and will become the cheapest form of clean energy by the end of 2016.

The report said: “The world recently passed a turning point and is adding more capacity for clean energy each year than for coal and natural gas combined. Peak fossil-fuel use for electricity may be reached within the next decade.”

Despite China’s dominant role in this transition among less-developed nations, the report nevertheless praised the efforts being made across the global South, finding that 80% of these countries now have national clean energy targets, with three out of four also setting carbon emission reduction goals. In 2013, this figure stood at just 18%.

Off-grid solar is also proving pivotal in many regions, particularly East Africa, where the “pay as you go” model has been very successful. BNEF has tracked investments totaling $450 million in off-grid renewables – excluding mini-grids – in 2015.