Will BRIC Countries Beat the US in Renewable Energy Race

Rapid growth in economy and energy consumption in non-OECD countries will need an expansion in the power generation market. Governments will increasingly be looking to develop renewable energies to avoid power shortages that would stunt development and therefore mitigate government objectives of raising living standards.

Global economic and energy demand growth will be concentrated in developing economies, so there is much potential for the role of renewable energies in emerging markets to expand over the next two decades. Although conventional forms of energy will still dominate the energy mix, the expansion of power-generating capacity in emerging markets will at least partly be supplied by growth in wind, solar, bio and hydropower.

The BRIC – Brazil, Russia, India and China – countries and other emerging markets are facing the twin challenges of promoting economic growth while mitigating the environmental impact of their growth strategies.

While there is criticism that countries such as India and China have balked from making more firm commitments to cutting their GHG emissions, both these countries nevertheless have prioritized renewable energy development as part of their strategy to reduce the carbon intensity of their respective economies per unit of GDP.

Therefore, developing economies led by the BRIC countries are playing an increasingly crucial role, not just in the global economic order, but also in the climate change debate and in the dynamics of global energy supply and demand.

China will be one of the major markets for wind power over the next two decades. China’s National Energy Administration stated that the country aims to more than double its wind power capacity to 30GW by 2020. China will reportedly invest at least $150bn to achieve the 30GW target by 2010.

By 2030, non-OECD economies will account for 59% of global energy consumption, a marked increase from 49.8% in 2006. Also by 2030, non-OECD economies will be emitting 25.8bn mt of carbon dioxide, or 64% of total emissions.

Brazil has huge potential for renewable energy through the burning of bagasse – a waste product from sugarcane production – to generate onsite heat and power. In
2009, it is estimated that 8,892MW of power will be produced by sugar cane with 3,600MW available to the market.

Incentive schemes will be crucial for the development of renewable energy sector over the next two decades. The report includes a detailed look at the many policies being promoted by the emerging economies, with a special emphasis on India.

Renewable energy policies differ greatly among the smaller emerging economies, ranging from the promotion of solar power in the Czech Republic to the concentration on geothermal power by the government of Indonesia.

Environmental requirements: – By 2006, non-OECD economies had exceeded the OECD in energy related carbon dioxide emissions. Meanwhile, BRIC countries, especially China and India, will play a major role in emissions growth over the next two decades by virtue of the fact that in each case economic growth and energy demand expansion will be robust. On the back of this, emerging economies are coming under increasing international pressure to cut emissions and invest in renewable sources.

Legislative issues: – As China has become a leading emitter of GHGs, its government has also decided to facilitate the growth of cleaner renewable energy sources to help fuel the country’s economic expansion. This has resulted in the country pledging to install almost 350GW of renewable capacity by 2030. Faced by similar problems, many of the leading emerging economies are also adopting comprehensive national policies to promote renewable energy.

Government support for renewable energy: – The cost of renewable energy remains above that for fossil-fuelled generation technologies. Therefore the sector has required substantial government support in the emerging economies in order to stimulate development. This includes the implementation of generous fixed tariffs for electricity generated and other support schemes such as tax incentives.

Future growth: – Rapid economic and energy consumption growth in non-OECD countries will need to be fed by expanded power generation. Meanwhile, a shift in an overall policy towards environmental issues is occurring at the same time. Together these two issues will combine to drive substantial renewable energy investment in the developing world up to 2030.

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