Renewable energy growth in developing solar markets

Paul_Whitacre_New_Energy_SolarPaul Whitacre22 March 2019
  • There has been significant renewable energy growth in many less-developed markets.
  • Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Morocco and Italy are among the up-and-comers.
  • As the growth of renewables continues along with more development and solar uptake, NEW anticipates a bright year ahead.

Renewable energy growth in the major markets of China, the United States and Australia is generally well publicised, however, there has been significant expansion in many less-developed markets over recent years – some of which could be worth keeping an eye on in 2019 for their contribution towards solar capacity. Here, we discuss global renewable trends for a handful of up-and-coming markets beyond the majors that are lighting the way for solar.

In Brazil, which has historically had a strong wind market, solar is thought to be heating up – with auction prices falling and a desire for more market-driven renewable solutions leading some offtakers, developers and suppliers to recognise solar as an area of growth for renewables.1 In 2017 alone, newly installed capacity in Brazil totalled 1,350 megawatts (MW) – and by the end of June 2018, there was 1,601 MW of grid-connected solar power.2 Looking ahead, solar is expected to grow 44% over the next year, which could lead the country to 3.3 gigawatts (GW) of total solar operating capacity.3

While the market in Saudi Arabia faced a setback following the announcement (and subsequent failure) of a $200 billion 200 GW solar power plant – set to be the biggest of its kind in the world4 – the market is still expected to lead the Middle East in PV demand over the next five years.5 Planned renewable tenders could see 4 GW of PV developed by the end of 2019, however, the Saudi government has announced it will transition towards renewable energy “gradually” in order to avoid chaos.6 Moving forward, part of the country’s clean energy plan could involve creating a global hub of renewable energy capacity over the coming decades, which produces upward of 200 GW of power.7

"In Germany, renewables overtook coal as the country's main source of energy..."

Germany produced enough electricity in the first half of 2018 to power every household for an entire year,8 while renewables overtook coal as the country’s main source of energy – accounting for more than 40% of electricity production.9 In particular, solar production increased by 16% to 45.7 terawatt hours (TWh), while installed capacity expanded by 3.2 GW to 45.5 GW over the last year.10 With more installations ahead in 2019, Germany could successfully reach its ambitious plan to produce 65% of its electricity from renewable energy.11

In Morocco, the largest concentrated solar power plant on earth – the 580-MW Noor-Ouarzazate complex12 – could help provide half of the country’s electricity by 2020,13 power more than one million homes and reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 760,000 tonnes per year.14 With one of the more ambitious energy targets in the world, the country aims to achieve 42% of its power from renewable resources by 2020 – and is currently on track for achieving this target, with 35% of its energy already derived from renewables.15

Italy is thought to be one of the few southern European solar markets that has had strong growth16 – and with the government targeting 74 TWh of solar generation a year by 2030, along with an installed capacity target of 50 GW17 and the planning of seven joint wind-and-solar auctions between 2019 and 2021,18 solar could soon represent more than half of Italy’s renewable energy capacity.19 In the meantime, the country’s private power purchase agreement sector has seen an increasing number of new deals for large-scale solar in recent months,20 indicating further growth for solar.  

As the growth of renewables continues, and as we see more development and uptake of solar in diverse markets across the world, New Energy Solar anticipates a bright year ahead – one that could incite hope and offer consumers new opportunities, not only for growth but to positively contribute towards the renewable energy transition.

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