From the Great Plains to North Africa, the geography of untapped renewable energy is massive, but a lack of political will remains an obstacle.
Years of efforts to nurture renewable energy have borne fruit dramatically in recent years, with renewable energy investments increasing worldwide.
That growth has largely overshadowed fossil fuels like coal, which is struggling in competitive electric markets against cheap, cleaner natural gas. But people who study the system say there’s a lot of potential that isn’t getting tapped, in the United States and abroad.
Solar was the leading source of new capacity in 2016, according to the International Energy Agency, as developing countries increasingly look toward photovoltaic cells and wind turbines to provide electricity for the more than 1.2 billion people who still lack power. The Middle East and North Africa in particular could be solar superpowers.
So which are the top Countries expanding in renewable energy and leading the way?
China has fueled the boom by investing big sums into solar and wind power, becoming a renewable energy superpower and dropping worldwide prices. And as costs fall, they’re drawing even more investment.
By 2020, Chinese government plans call for meeting 27% of the country’s total power output through renewable energy. By 2050, the economic giant wants to take that figure up to 80%.
Chile is leaping ahead into a renewables-led future. El Romero, its solar-energy plant in the Atacama Desert, is the largest in South America, built with an investment injection of 343 million USD.
Kenya’s vast potential in geo-thermal energy still remains unexploited. The bustling East African economy is, however, eager to be a regional clean energy leader and geo-thermal superpower. Given its performance in 2016 Kenya is already on track for attracting the right kind of interest and investment. Japan has shown keen interest in funding Kenya’s green projects.
From almost nothing in 2009 to over 360 wind projects Brazil has moved fast on capturing and exploiting the growth in renewables energy markets. With another 175 projects under construction Brazil’s goal is to capitalise on $7 billion of investment contracts in the country.
Taiwan: The small island nation is looking to invest $56 billion to grow its current share of renewable energy output to 20% by 2025, pushing it up to five times its current level.