Investments in solar power overtook those in wind power for the first time in 2011, and the latest deals suggest this is only the start, says energy industry expert GlobalData.
The group says that renewable energy is becoming increasingly important in developing nations across north Africa and Asia, and with such a readily available and abundant source, it’s solar power that’s attracting the big money.
In China (a major renewable power investment hub) a series of solar power projects have been declared to meet the demand from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), but also to fulfil its own requirements.
Notably, Shandong province is currently implementing its ‘One Million Rooftops Sunshine Plan’, with the stated goal of stimulating the integration of solar panels into building construction.
Now emerging markets across the (MENA), Eastern Europe, Latin America and Southeast Asia are aiming to grow their renewable energy production with an increased presence in the solar sector.
UAE and Algeria, among several other MENA nations, are focusing their renewable energy efforts in solar power, India’s National Solar Mission will drive investment in the subcontinent, and the Malaysian government has set a renewable energy target of more than 3,140 MW by 2020, with solar power expected to account for one-third of the total capacity.
This new focus has upped demand for solar photovoltaic (PV) modules, set to be met by manufacturers in Southeast Asia.
GlobalData expects Japan, Taiwan, Republic of Korea, and in particular, China, to be the major equipment manufacturers in the years to come.
The explosion in solar power’s popularity is attributed to the glut of PV modules that hit the market last year due to over production – an occurrence that lowered prices and vastly increased capacity installations.
As a consequence, cost of generation approached grid parity in certain locations and attracted a wealth of asset financing investments.
According to 2011 figures, investments in solar power accounted for 49% of the US$209 billion global renewable energy industry, compared to the once dominant wind sector, which claimed 34%. Biopower, geothermal and small hydro investments made up the remaining 17%.