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Developing countries are in a unique position to bypass the carbon intensive power systems that other parts of the world are now trying to replace


REGIONAL CAPACITY


Solar PV capacity differs dramatically by region: Asia (excluding Japan): Solar PV plants in Asia account for approximately 42 percent of global overall installed capacity14


of solar plants and


less than 7 percent of the continent’s energy mix. China is the leading generator in Asia, with 52 percent (or 8,548 MW) of the solar capacity installed in the region. India is in second place with over 2,300 MW and Thailand comes third with about 500 MW of installed capacity. Kazakhstan, Pakistan and the Philippines together account for almost 1,000 MW of solar PV15


.


South America: Solar PV in South America accounts for only 2.3 percent of worldwide installed capacity16


and less than 5 percent


of the continent’s energy mix. However, some countries, such as Peru, are extending solar PV throughout rural areas by subsidising household connections. Two of the largest PV plants in South America are in Chile, in the Atacama Desert, with installed capacities of 100 MW and 246 MW.


Africa: Solar PV installed capacity in Africa accounts for approximately 2.5 percent of the worldwide total17


the continent’s energy mix18


and around 1 percent of . Africa enjoys the


highest number of sunlight hours per year of all the continents at circa 4,300, which equates to 97 percent of the maximum possible total sunlight hours19


. Therefore, solar PV energy has


the potential for a far more extensive use. South Africa leads the installed capacity charts with 1,243 MW, followed by Nigeria with 976 MW and Egypt with 540 MW20


.


Obstacles to the expansion of solar PV in developing countries remain. One challenge is the lack of an adequate transmission infrastructure network and a smart grid to cater to the intermittent nature of electricity generated from solar PV; another is the lack of


compelling subsidies. Hence, while solar energy for off-grid and mini-grid developments is often the most competitive solution in developing countries, complex financial and organisational questions get in the way: there are regular bottlenecks in financing, business models are untested, misunderstandings about sustainable operations and maintenance persist, and the social and economic environments of such projects are often difficult.


Solutions do exist and include supporting home solar systems or installing mini-grids with micro credits or a ‘fee for service’ model; or more commonly, using capital subsidies and cost recovery via tariffs. Although capital subsidies and cost recovery systems are in use in most developing countries, complicated regulations often restrict companies and households from benefiting from them. Furthermore, short- sighted energy policies are a particular problem in developing countries. Many remain focused on grid extension, urban electrification or large hydro, gas or coal power plants without too much thought for long-term sustainability and supply. When demand outstrips supply and the lights go out, this lack of thought is costly. Diversified electricity generation capacities – including an expanded use of solar PV, especially in rural areas – is essential for the powering-up of developing countries.


Developing countries are in a unique position to bypass the carbon intensive power systems that other parts of the world are now trying to replace. Several characteristics that are unique to many developing countries – such as abundant solar resources, the use of expensive fuel oil for power and an existing gap to be filled for large energy generation – could enable such countries to achieve wide-scale deployment of solar energy in their electricity systems, especially as the price of solar continues to fall rapidly. Combine this with more ambitious goals for solar, and developing countries could create a greener, cheaper path to continued development21


.


FOOTNOTES 1


3 4 5 6 7 8 9


International Energy Agency. (2015). World Energy Outlook 2015. Paris, France: International Energy Agency. 2 International Energy Agency. (2020). Tracking Solar PV.


World Bank (2017). Projects and Operations – Solar Energy.


Solar PV Magazine (2017). Solar Deployment in Developing Countries.


World Bank (2017). Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy.


Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century. (2016). Policy Database.


Journal of Energy in Southern Africa (2013). Evaluation of feed-in-tariff schemes in African countries.


Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century. (2016). Renewables 2016 Global Status Report.


Aberman, N. et al. (2015). Climate Change Adaptation Assets and Group-Based Approaches: Gendered Perceptions from Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Mali, and Kenya. International Food Policy Research Institute. Discussion Paper 01412.


10


Aberman, N. et al. (2015). Climate Change Adaptation Assets and Group-Based Approaches: Gendered Perceptions from Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Mali, and Kenya. International Food Policy Research Institute. Discussion Paper 01412.


11


Republic of Mali. (2012). Fourth general population and housing census (RGPH- 2009). Bamako, Mali: Republic of Mali


12


Aberman, N. et al. (2015). Climate Change Adaptation Assets and Group-Based Approaches: Gendered Perceptions from Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Mali, and Kenya. International Food Policy Research Institute. Discussion Paper 01412.


13 14


UN Women. (16 September 2015). In Mali, renewable energy boosts agricultural production


Snapshot of Global Photovoltaic Markets (2015). Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme. Report IEA PVPS T1-29:2016


15 16


Top 50 Solar Plants in Asia: The lands of rising solar (2017). Solarplaza.


Snapshot of Global Photovoltaic Markets (2015). Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme. Report IEA PVPS T1-29:2016


17


Snapshot of Global Photovoltaic Markets (2015). Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme. Report IEA PVPS T1-29:2016


18 https://www.iea.org/reports/africa-energy-outlook-2019 19


20 21


Top 50 Solar Plants in Africa: The lands of rising solar (2017). Solarplaza.


Energy Central (2015). Solar Power in Developing Countries: Big Opportunities for Unique Markets.


Dunlop, S. (2008). A Dictionary of Weather. OUP Oxford. ISBN 9780191580055.


38


PHOTO: abriendomundo/www.shutterstock.com


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