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Grounding Green Power

Bottom-Up Perpectives on Smart Renewable Energy Policy in Developing Countries

The German Marshall Fund of the United States, Heinrich Böll Stiftung, World Resources Institute | May 2011

By Lutz Weischer, Davida Wood, Athena Ballesteros, Xing Fu-Bertaux

This paper was published by the German Marshall Fund of the United States in cooperation with the Heinrich Boell Foundation and the World Resources Institute.

Developing Countries in the Renewable Energy Transformation

In order to meet the intensifying climate challenge, the global energy system must undergo a fundamental transformation, with a rapid increase of renewable energy worldwide. Developing countries are at the forefront of this challenge, since they are expected to add around 80 percent of all new electric generation capacity worldwide in the next two decades.

The deployment of energy from renewable sources is accelerating in developing countries, and already accounts for a higher percentage of electricity generation than in the developed world. In 2008, non-OECD nations generated 21 percent of their electricity from renewable sources including large-scale hydroelectric power (compared with 17 percent in OECD countries), according to International Energy Agency (IEA) statistics. However, this figure must more than double by 2035, to 46 percent, in order to meet the IEA's "450 scenario," which outlines a climate friendly pathway for meeting global energy demands.

Transforming the energy system on this scale will require significantly increased support from developed countries, channeled through both bilateral assistance and multilateral institutions, as well as philanthropic initiatives. Our conclusions, derived from a series of case studies and a comprehensive review of existing literature, suggest that donors should deploy financial support more effectively by moving beyond a project-by-project approach to one that creates the right environment for investments in scaled-up, nationwide deployment.

This working paper seeks to assist in this process, by identifying key components of smart renewable energy policy in developing countries, focusing on the power sector. It also provides recommendations for maximizing the effectiveness of international support for deployment of renewable energies, drawn from these on-the-ground experiences in developing countries.

About this Working Paper

Chapter 1 introduces the approach and methodology taken in this paper and describes the key concepts we address. The second chapter discusses what developing countries are already doing to deploy renewable energy sources, and how they can be supported in scaling up such efforts. It also introduces a set of principles of smart renewable energy policy to propel such a transformation, developed by the World Resources Institute. These are based on insights drawn from case studies of existing renewable energy policies in 12 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America as well as from existing literature.

The following five chapters each examine one key element of smart renewable energy policy, discuss lessons learned, and identify needs for international support. These cover planning and strategy (Chapter 3), well-designed generation-based incentives (Chapter 4), an enabling policy and regulatory framework (Chapter 5), attractive financing conditions (Chapter 6), and the necessary technical environment (Chapter 7). Our findings and recommendations are summarized in Chapter 8.

Principles of Smart Renewable Energy Policy

We define smart renewable energy policy as the set of rules, regulations, and government actions that lead to an increased share of renewables in total electricity consumption in line with a country's development objectives. Smart renewable energy policy encourages private investment, achieves its objectives in a cost-effective way, promotes continuous innovation, and is designed through transparent, accountable, and participatory processes.

Download: Grounding Green Power (PDF, 1.28 M)

Read More: Agriculture, Aid, Development, Energy, Environment, Jobs, Poverty, Sustainability, Africa

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