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Solar May Leapfrog Fossil Fuels in Developing World

May 06, 2016
By Jarrod Whaley

In POWER magazine, Lee Buchsbaum writes that investment in renewable energy sources hit an all-time high in 2015, particularly in developing nations. Indeed, in areas where traditional power grids are still coming online, the changing economics of generation may lead to a situation in which solar and wind "leapfrog" fossil fuels:

According to a Mercatus Energy Investment Management’s Global Advanced Energy Insights Report, the $12 trillion flooding into the market over the next few years—mainly into the developing world—is funding an “energy transformation.” Based on information about energy projects in various stages of development in 2015, “there’s a real opportunity for these markets to leapfrog fossil-fuel dependence,” wrote analyst Haresh Patel.

The changing economic factors leading to this widespread adoption of solar (in particular) in the developing world are likely to be transformative in the developed world too—but the effects may a bit later to arrive on our shores due to our long-established infrastructure. The existing hardware and business models will slow the process of change.

Buchsbaum goes on to argue, however, that no amount of Western intransigence will be enough to stem the solar tide, however:

Renewables—in particular solar—just keeps on getting cheaper. “Subsidy or no subsidy, it’s still going to happen. Rooftop solar is something in particular you have to start putting some strong anti-rooftop policies in place to stop, which is quite different than enabling it in terms of public policy.”

Whether all of these changes will be enough to keep the polar icecaps from melting remains to be seen, but it's nonetheless heartening to see that change is finally coming.