There’s a growing gap between current investment in low-carbon energy and what’s needed to meet world demand while avoiding the worst impacts of climate change. The good news is there’s sufficient capital and investor interest to close much of this gap.
However, policies that encourage market certainty and level the playing field between different energy sources are needed to attract the volume of investment required, according to a special International Energy Agency (IEA) report, the World Energy Investment Outlook, released this month.
India has come out with ambitious renewable energy goals, but the country still faces a daunting financing gap. WRI and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) are leading an innovative effort—The Green Power Market Development Group—that could bridge this finance gap and help overcome India’s energy challenges.
In tandem with a new working paper, Letha Tawney describes what draws U.S. commercial and industrial customers to renewable energy, and explores how traditional utilities could build on their strengths to deliver affordable renewable energy to customers.
A social entrepreneur invests the little working capital she has to bring solar electricity to a community that –like 1.2 billion people worldwide– lacks access to electricity. The community used to use dirty, expensive and choking kerosene for light to cook by and for children to learn by. The entrepreneur knows she can recoup her costs, because people are willing to pay for reliable, high-quality, clean energy – and it will be even less than what they used to pay for kerosene. Sounds like a good news story, right?
Three months later, the government utility extends the electrical grid to this same community, despite official plans showing it would take at least another four years. While this could be good news for the community, one unintended consequence is that this undermines the entrepreneur’s investment, wiping out their working capital, and deterring investors from supporting decentralized clean energy projects in other communities that lack access to electricity.
The White House’s climate action plan aims to transform the U.S. electricity system in the coming decades. The President directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop and implement standards to reduce carbon dioxide pollution from power plants, double renewable energy in the United States by 2020, and open public lands to an additional 10 gigawatts of renewable energy development, enough to power more than 6 million homes.
When it comes to renewable energy, the Philippines is one of the world’s more ambitious countries. The country set out to triple its share of renewable energy by 2030 based on 2010 levels. The Philippines has one of Asia’s highest electricity rates, in part due to high costs of importing fossil fuels. Enhancing the country’s energy security and keeping power costs down have been the main drivers for setting renewable energy goals.
India recently experienced one of the world’s worst blackouts, with 670 million citizens directly impacted. While media reports have focused on the repercussions from two days of outages, this incident illustrates a much larger, more systemic problem: the need for improved electricity governance.