China & India Remained Biggest Emerging Markets for Clean Energy Investments: BNEF

According to a new report by BNEF, China and India remained the biggest emerging markets for clean energy investment

As 2019 came to a close, the outlook for renewable energy growth in developing economies was exceptionally bright. Power-generating capacity from solar plants such as solar projects reached 325 gigawatts (GW), up from just 1 GW a decade earlier, according to new findings from research firm BloombergNEF (BNEF). Wind investment hit an all-time annual high, with USD 89 billion deployed to build projects in 30 emerging markets, both onshore and offshore. One of the other key highlights of the report was that China and India remained the biggest emerging markets for clean energy investment.

As per the report, the two neighbours accounted for USD 94 billion of new wind and utility-scale solar investment and 76 GW of wind and solar build in 2019 (capacity figures include funding for both utility-scale build and small-scale solar).

Moving beyond the two South Asian giants, the report also details that powering the growth of the emerging markets was the fundamental cost-competitiveness of these clean technologies compared to their fossil-fuel rivals, which foreign investors duly noticed. Total foreign direct investment (FDI) in support of renewables set a new record at USD 32 billion in 2019, up from a previous high of USD 24 billion in 2018. The vast majority – 84 percent – of the 2019 total came from international project developers, utilities, commercial banks and other private sources.

However, then came the pandemic. The report added that while COVID-19 has wounded nearly every corner of the global economy, the pain in emerging markets has been particularly acute. To keep their economies afloat, governments in a number of these markets have boosted spending and, in turn, raised borrowing, only to watch their currencies devaluate and their sovereign debt ratings get downgraded. What had been a strong flow of clean energy investment from abroad has become a drizzle as many investors seek safer opportunities closer to home.

China and India Clean Energy

Other key highlights:

  • Emerging economies accounted for 58 percent (USD 144 billion) of the USD 249 billion in asset finance invested in utility-scale clean energy capacity worldwide during the year.
  • Solar power is becoming ubiquitous. Three in 10 emerging markets installed more solar capacity than capacity from any other source in 2019. Some 69 markets built new utility-scale or small-scale solar in 2019, funded with over USD 48 billion. Solar ended 2019 as 8 percent of emerging markets power-generating capacity and 2 percent of generation. Today, 95 markets have at least 10 megawatts (MW) of solar installed.
  • For the first time, renewables (including hydro) accounted for the majority of new capacity added in the 106 other emerging markets (excluding Mainland China and India). Gas build fell to its lowest level in these markets since 2014, with just 17 GW added.

“2019 was a year of firsts, for the most part, in good ways,” said BNEF’s Luiza Demôro, Climatescope’s lead author. “The surge of capital we saw flow into emerging markets suggests that investors had become quite comfortable with the risks involved with financing new wind or solar there.” 

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Ayush Verma

Ayush is a staff writer at saurenergy.com and writes on renewable energy with a special focus on solar and wind. Prior to this, as an engineering graduate trying to find his niche in the energy journalism segment, he worked as a correspondent for iamrenew.com.

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