Developing Countries Embrace Solar Energy

Because solar research involves universities, governments and research institutions around the world, it can seem daunting to get a handle on the latest developments in this important technology.   Regardless of the geography or who’s involved, however, current solar research can generally be categorized into three major areas:

  • making current technology solar cells cheaper and/or more efficient to effectively compete with other energy sources and to increase access to solar energy as a resource, especially in developing countries;
  • developing whole new technologies based on new solar cell architectural designs; and
  • developing new materials that can more efficiently convert light energy into electric current

One recent trend in solar energy research is the documentation of how developing countries embrace solar energy.   Let’s look at some of the issues:

Solar Energy Access

Critics of renewable energy technology often maintain that the cost of alternative energy installations have historically made this option affordable only by the affluent.  Only rich countries can afford to make the investment in solar, the argument goes.  But, as the cost of solar installations continues to drop, and those costs are offset by government and industry rebates, the situation is changing.  Developing countries are now making huge investments in alternative energy.

Global Trends in Solar Energy

According to the Franklin School (FS) and UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance, climate change will continue to pose a fundamental challenge to the world economy and the financial industry in particular. In their publication entitled Global trends in renewable energy investment, 2015 was noted as the first year in which investment in renewables excluding large hydro in developing countries outweighed that of developed economies. The developing world (including China, India and Brazil) committed a total of $156 billion, up 19% on 2014, while developed countries invested $130 billion, down 8%. A large factor was China, which increased its investment in renewable energy sources by 17% to $102.9 billion, or 36% of the world total.

A report by Solar Electric Fund (SELF) indicates that Kenya is emerging as a world leader in the adoption of solar equipment per capita.  More than 30,000 small solar panels, each producing 12 to 30 watts, are sold in Kenya annually.  Prices of solar panels are dropping in Kenya including in rural areas as solar kits are becoming more widely available.  Kenyans are turning to solar power as a cushion against high utility costs and as a more reliable source of energy than the sporadic service they currently receive from government run utilities.

 According to General Electric in an article published in January, 2017, these same global trends in solar energy are noted for 2017.  Specifically, GE maintains that
  • Developing countries will take the lead  The Indian government is preparing to spend $3-billion in state funding to build up its solar panel manufacturing capabilities to hopefully generate 100MW of power in the next few years.  It’s widely accepted that China is already at the forefront of solar PV manufacturing and utilization, and the good news is that its government will now move its solar energy policy forward by imposing an energy tax which will result in more consumers and businesses adopting rooftop solar solutions.
  • Pay as you go solar in Africa  There are still some 600-million people in Africa who lack access to stable electricity and who do not have the money for home solar systems. The pay-as-you-go solution has been working well in certain parts of Africa and is achieving success in bringing power to under serviced sectors on the continent.

Not only are these trends important in that more people are getting access to cheaper and more reliable power, but a shift to renewable energy is good for the environment.  In isolated rural areas, electricity – if available at all – is often provided by diesel generators.  And burning kerosene lamps or traditional biomass such as cow dung in areas where electricity is not available harms humans as well as the planet.

Here closer to home our state and local policy makers are working hard to advance solar energy in New York. Venture Home Solar stands ready to help you explore your solar options. Headquartered in Brooklyn, we only serve NYC and the surrounding areas. We’re the local experts who get jobs done quickly and cleanly – just ask your neighbors.

Learn more by contacting one of our solar experts at Venture Home Solar.  Find out how you can be part of the global initiative to bring clean energy to all of the world’s inhabitants, including right here at home.