renewable energy

By Simon Currie and Laura Kiwelu, Norton Rose Fulbright

Harnessing abundant and free solar energy has long been regarded as the obvious solution to Africa’s persistently low electrification rates. After a sluggish start due to unproven technology and high capital costs, we are now witnessing a solar revolution which will transform Africa’s energy landscape over the next decade.

In February 2015 the first solar photovoltaic (or PV) grid connected plant in Africa outside of South Africa was inaugurated at the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village in Rwanda, a refuge for those orphaned during and after the 1994 genocide.

With a layout resembling the Africa continent, its ramifications have spread far beyond the 8.5MW it exports to the grid, attracting visitors such as Bono and members of the US Senate. In Africa the usual development period for power plants is nine years from inception. Yet this project was generating power barely two years after completion of the feasibility study. Read more

By Felipe Calderón, Global Commission on the Economy and Climate

Over the next fifteen years, the world needs to invest more in new infrastructure and upgrades than everything that exists today. This means we have a crucial window of opportunity to build it right, reflecting the new international priorities of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement.

If we continue on our current high-carbon economic model, the world will need to invest more than $90tn in infrastructure. But it won’t cost much more to build our energy, transport, water, and telecommunications systems in a low-carbon way. Making our infrastructure cleaner and more sustainable could add as little as 5 per cent to upfront costs, which could be fully offset by lower operating costs. It would also make our economy cleaner, more efficient, and more productive. Plus, it would reduce the enormous costs of adapting to climate change. Read more

By Melissa Stark, Accenture

A lot has been written about the shale gas and oil boom in the US and why that model cannot be replicated in other countries with plentiful potential resources. In fact, this does not have to be the case.

We have done extensive analysis on the potential for shale development outside of the US, from Western to Eastern Europe, across Asia Pacific, Latin America and even South Africa. The biggest advantage that countries like Argentina, Saudi Arabia and China have over the others is a strong, government-backed national oil company (NOC). Read more

Chile, the world’s top copper producing nation, has a problem: A lack of energy.

But an emerging markets-focused private equity firm, Actis, and Mainstream Renewable Power, say at least part of the answer is, literally, blowing in the wind.

They have teamed up to create Aela Energia, which will build five wind and solar plants across Chile to provide 600 MW of power (450 MW from wind and 150 MW from solar) within the next three years. Total investment is $1.4bn, including debt, of which Actis will put up $290m and Mainstream is putting in $170m. Read more

By Ben Aris of bne

Following a tragic accident in 2009 that killed 75 workers, Russia’s biggest hydropower station Sayano Shushenskaya is back in action and planning to treble its installed capacity as Russia gets serious about meeting demand for power. Read more

Oil-rich Gulf countries have announced some of the world’s most ambitious renewable energy plans but analysts say the next year marks a big test to show whether these pledges will turn into contracts, writes Camilla Hall.

Both Saudi Arabia, which has announced a $109bn spending drive into solar energy, and Qatar, which aims to use a sustainable energy base to host the World Cup in 2022, have signalled they intend to launch tender contracts for solar energy projects. Read more

The share price of Suntech, the Chinese solar giant now in bankruptcy court, jumped 15.6 per cent in New York on Monday after a Chinese media report said Warren Buffett might invest in the struggling company.

It’s the latest twist in the saga of Suntech’s spectacular demise. The company has gone from being the world’s largest solar company in 2011, to defaulting on international bonds worth $541m in March 2013, to landing in Chinese bankruptcy court late last month. Read more

Poland’s long-running reluctance to tackle a new law on renewable energy is starting to impose growing economic and political costs, as big energy companies freeze planned projects and smaller investors are driven to bankruptcy, all while ministries squabble over the future shape of the law. Read more

Italian energy company ERG Group is at present predominately an oil and gas operation – but like many of its competitors, it wants a bigger piece of the green energy action. Perhaps emerging Europe is the place to look?

In its €500m 2013-15 investment plans announced on Wednesday, ERG outlined a shift in priorities towards growing its wind power activities. and it is seeking expansion in the Romanian and Bulgarian markets. Both offer attractive investment opportunities thanks to state support, but how long will that last? Read more

The country in Europe with the most potential in renewable energy must establish a world-leading manufacturing base in the sector, writes Matthew Vogel of Alternatif Investments.

The Turkish government’s goals for 2023, the centenary of the Republic, include several in the energy sector. With huge dependence on Russian gas and questions about the outlook for diversification (whether Azeri or Iranian gas would be more reliable is a question), the AK Government must exploit the country’s renewable energy resources, which are actually much greater than the 2023 targets, more than double. Read more

South Africa’s latest round of renewable energy contracts has attracted interest from European developers after home subsidies have dried up, but legal uncertainty and rules over local ownership may cut the temper their enthusiasm.

So far the third round of bids for solar and wind projects has seen some developers stop short of a full committment, which is hardly helped by government holdups. Read more

Not many more where those came from

Bulgaria’s complicated relationship with renewable energy continues. While a recent Saudi investment indicates some potential, sharp cuts in subsidies and a legislative tangle are undermining the sector.

On July 9, Riyadh-based ACWA Power said it would take a controlling 42 per cent stake in a solar plant at Karadzhalovo in central Bulgaria. The 60MW plant will make a small but significant contribution to Bulgaria’s power matrix while reducing its reliance on polluting coal power. But anybody hoping ACWA’s investment would be followed by more is likely to be disappointed. Read more

By Nandita Parshad of the EBRD

As Mongolia goes to the polls for parliamentary elections the country – remote, still largely unknown, the most sparsely populated on Earth – is enjoying a rapid and well documented boom as it begins to exploit its vast mineral wealth. “We want to be Chile” – this is the mantra of many Mongolians. They are not after the Chilean climate or its wine but rather they aspire to join the ranks of those resource-rich countries that have managed to avoid the “resource curse” and achieve a sustainable, fair and balanced economy. Read more

The trouble with being the world’s biggest energy user and sprawling across 9m square kilometers is that it is often hard to get the power where you need it.

In China, the trials and travails of the national electrical grid usually go unnoticed. The utility companies that produce China’s power and run the grid include some of the biggest companies in the world by asset size but they often fall below the radar screen since they are state-owned and primarily domestic. Read more

Time for a change of plan. With the Mediterranean region in economic trouble, Enel, the Italian electricity utility,  is looking not just at new energy, but also new markets.

Enel Green Power, the listed renewables unit of Italian utility Enel, plans to invest €6.1bn over the next four years as it shifts its focus from mature Europe to new emerging markets, including Turkey, Morocco and South Africa. Read more

Central Asia is mainly known for its abundant hydrocarbon reserves – but some countries in the region are already turning their attention to wind resources to produce cleaner, renewable energy.

Mongolia has set an ambitious goal to become central Asia’s renewable energy champion even as foreign investors compete for access to its huge coal mines. Strong winds gusting across the empty steppe could eventually be harnessed to produce about one quarter of the country’s energy needs. Read more

When it comes to investing in Africa, it’s not all about China.

On Monday India’s Tata Power and South Africa’s Exxaro announced the launch of a joint venture to focus on renewable energy projects, to start in April 2012. The deal brings together India’s largest private sector electricity generator and South Africa’s second biggest coal miner. Read more

While China declares itself as a world leader in wind energy, India is also trying to make its claim in the global renewable energy sector, and it is one step closer with the announcement that it plans to build Asia’s first commercial tidal power plant.

The state government of Gujarat has signed preliminary agreement with Britain’s Atlantis Resources corporation to build a 250 MW tidal power plant in the Gulf of Kutch along the country’s western coast. Read more

South African environmentalists have grown increasingly frustrated of late: while the government is full of bold plans for renewable energy, it has been slow to bring about real growth in the sector. So they will be cautious in their approval of Monday’s announcement that the government will start a long-awaited subsidy scheme in the first quarter of next year, in the hope of unleashing a wave of green electricity investment Read more