12. International Renewable Energy

C. Renewable Energy in Developing and Emerging Countries

In the developing regions of the world, several countries are aggressively pursuing electrification programs and will likely be the examples that other countries follow as they develop and implement electrification programs in the future. If countries like India, China, Brazil, and South Africa are successful in their efforts to meet significant portions of their energy needs through renewable energy technologies, the prospect that other countries will follow a similar path will increase substantially.


As democratization and economic liberalization efforts move forward, many African nations are attempting to improve their energy supply resources and expand their power systems to rural areas populated by millions of poor people without access to electricity. The long-term prospects for renewable power systems in these areas are optimistic, as efforts are being made to reverse the urban migration trend by installing sustainable power sources that are essential to the economic health of the rural areas.


Most of the fastest-growing emerging economies are located in Asia. In those countries with strong economic growth, there will be an increasing effort to install new electricity generation capacity to meet the energy demands accompanying strong growth and to supply electricity to rural areas now off the grid. The absence of well-established grids in most of the vast rural areas of Asia makes standalone renewable energy applications and "village-grid" renewable applications the best prospects for electrification. EIA's forecasts estimate a 3-percent annual increase in renewable energy consumption between 1990 and 2010 for Asia excluding China.(8)

The two major emerging markets for renewable energy in Asia are China and India. Near-term developments in those countries will likely influence the use of renewables in the rest of Asia. Indonesia also has a significant number of installed photovoltaic systems in remote areas, and cells and modules manufactured in the United States have been imported by India, China, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan.(9)

Indonesia: With over 6,000 islands having remote villages that are not connected to the electricity grid, Indonesia's geography is ideally suited for standalone renewable applications, particularly photovoltaic systems. Some 25,000 photovoltaic systems have been installed with government funds or assistance from foreign organizations and through hire-purchase by the users themselves.(17)

The Americas

Total electric capacity additions in Latin America(18) from 1990 to 2000 are expected to be 41.6 gigawatts (Table 45), of which 85 percent is expected to be hydroelectric.(19) Most of the capacity additions will be concentrated in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Mexico, and Venezuela. EIA's renewable energy consumption forecasts estimate 3-percent annual growth for Canada and Mexico between 1990 and 2010.(20)

Financing is a major concern as Latin America attempts to increase its electric power capacity. This has driven Latin American governments, many of which maintain strong control of the energy sector, toward forming partnerships with private capital and separating the regulatory role of the government from the operational role of energy companies.(21) Along with regulatory reform, the increased ■market access■ resulting from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) should make capital more accessible for renewable projects planned in Latin America.(22)

Environmental concerns are also driving Latin America's electricity generation agenda. The environmental benefits of many renewable energy technologies, along with their decreasing costs and appropriateness to many of Latin America's rural areas, ensure that the prospects for renewable energy projects will remain favorable in the years ahead. Prospects for renewable energy for some specific countries in the Americas, including Canada, are summarized below.