US solar developer SunEdison announced today that it will spend $314 million on two solar projects in South Africa, amounting to 58 megawatts of installed power. Sure, these are small numbers when compared to the massive projects happening in the U.S., China and Europe. But as subsidy rollbacks impact solar development, signs of development in promising emerging markets are a reason to cheer.
South Africa has just 1 percent of its electricity output sourced from renewable energy, but has an ambitious goal of getting to 8 percent by 2030. The country is facing difficulty expanding its coal power stations and is focusing on renewable energy, and has already committed to building 73.8 megawatts of wind power to be built by Shanduka Energy and Spanish wind operator Gestamp Wind.
The emerging markets, including sun rich areas of Africa and India, are promising as these countries try to modernize and provide power to a creeping middle class. And as solar panel prices continue to slope downward, there’s some hope that the embattled industry could find a bit of support in emerging markets.