Solar energy investment gaining ground globally

Rays Power solar project

Climate change is bringing more nations into the renewable energy fold as much as the possibility that the world would run out of fossil fuels. Solar power is among the fastest growing sources of clean energy, under the circumstances.

Even oil-rich nations such as Saudi Arabia are focusing on building their renewable energy portfolio, particularly solar, in keeping with the changing times. The rising affordability of solar technology is further fuelling the growth.

In this context, Gaurav Agnihotri of Oilprice.com has listed five emerging solar energy markets in terms of investment potential.

In an article given to Yahoo Finance, Agnihotri lists China as the nation with the most solar investment potential.

China produces nearly 75 percent of solar panels in use around the world. The country not only leads solar panel manufacturing but is also one of the biggest markets for solar deployment.

It has drawn huge investments from the likes of US-based SunPower Corporation and Apple. SunPower has predicted China will be its fastest growing market over the next five years.

China has revised its solar target for 2015 from 12 gigawatts to 17.8 gigawatts and is attracting additional investment of $3.4 billion. The country has also invested close to $40 million in solar energy projects in the US.

The next biggest market is India, which is currently ranked as the third biggest polluter of the world after China and the US.

Several private and public sector companies have committed about $200 billion toward the development of renewable energy in India.

US-based SunEdison and First Solar have committed clean energy projects of about 20 gigawatts capacity over the next five years in India. Companies such as Suzlon, Gamesa and Mytrah, too, have committed to invest in the Indian solar sector.

Chinese company JA Solar Holdings is collaborating with India’s Essel Infraprojects to establish a 500 MW solar manufacturing facility in India.

Besides these, the Indian government, too, has been taking several initiatives to promote development of renewable energy projects. Recently it proposed the establishment of a renewable energy grid covering seven states which facilitated management of such resources more efficiently. It has also announced subsidy of Rs 4750 crore for a scheme to promote development of solar projects among unemployed youth and farmers.

The third country in the list is Saudi Arabia. With 16 percent of the world’s oil reserves in its control, the nation which has played a key role in sustaining the oil price slump is apparently planning to ultimately convert to renewable energy.

Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al Naimi was reported as saying at a conference in Paris: “In Saudi Arabia, we recognize that eventually we’re not going to need fossil fuels. I don’t know when — 2040, 2050 or thereafter. So we have embarked on a program to develop solar energy. Hopefully, one of these days, instead of exporting fossil fuels, we will be exporting gigawatts of electric power.”

It was a surprising statement given that the country had officially postponed implementation of renewable energy projects for which it had announced a $109 billion solar plan in 2012.

TechSci Research recently reported based on a study that Saudi Arabia will target 54 GW of clean power by 2032, of which 41 GW would be from solar power.

The fourth country in the list, Japan, has always been known for its clean energy aspirations. Japan has been particularly interested in green energy projects since the Fukushima nuclear plant accident in 2011.

Most recently Goldman Sachs decided to increase its clean energy investments in Japan by forming a trust. It is targeting $1 billion in investor capital with long-term investment grade-rated renewable energy bonds.

The country has already tripled its renewable energy capacity to 25 GW of which solar accounts for more than 80 percent.

The fifth and final nation in the list is Pakistan. The country is currently bolstering its renewable energy capacity with help from China. It even installed a rooftop solar project to power its parliament house with the help of a Chinese company.

Pakistan recently commissioned a 100 megawatt solar facility in Punjab province and it will be expanded to capacity of 300 megawatts by the end of this year.

The country offers huge potential for investment in the sector as many of its regions are poorly connected to the national grid and rains follow unpredictable patterns there.

Chinese companies are expected to invest close to $30 billion on solar projects in the coming few years.

Ajith Kumar S

editor@greentechlead.com