Renewable energy in developing countries

Most developing countries have abundant renewable energy resources, including solar energy, wind power, geothermal energy, and biomass, as well as the ability to manufacture the relatively labor-intensive systems that harness these. By developing such energy sources developing countries can reduce their dependence on oil and natural gas, creating energy portfolios that are less vulnerable to price rises. In many circumstances, these investments can be less expensive than fossil fuel energy systems. [ Energy for Development: The Potential Role of Renewable Energy in Meeting the Millennium Development Goals] pp. 7-9.]

Rationale for renewables

Renewable energy can be particularly suitable for developing countries. In rural and remote areas, transmission and distribution of energy generated from fossil fuels can be difficult and expensive. Producing renewable energy locally can offer a viable alternative. [ Power for the People] p. 3.]

Interest in renewable energies has increased in recent years due to environmental concerns about global warming and air pollution, reduced costs of renewable energy technologies, and improved efficiency and reliability.

Poverty alleviation

Renewable energy projects in many developing countries have demonstrated that renewable energy can directly contribute to poverty alleviation by providing the energy needed for creating businesses and employment. Renewable energy technologies can also make indirect contributions to alleviating poverty by providing energy for cooking, space heating, and lighting.


Renewable energy can also contribute to education, by providing electricity to schools. Renewable energy for cooking and heating can reduce the time that children, spend out of school collecting fuel. In addition, the displacement of traditional fuels reduces the health problems from indoor air pollution produced by burning those fuels.


Renewable energy can also contribute to improved health by providing energy to refrigerate medicine and sterilize medical equipment. It can also provide power for supplying the fresh water and sewerage services needed to reduce infectious disease.

Government policies

Relatively few developing countries have adopted the public policies needed for the widespread development of renewable energy technologies and markets, which have been dominated by Europe, Japan, and North America. The exceptions include Brazil, which has built the world’s leading biofuels industry, and China and India, which are leaders in developing decentralized renewable sources such as small hydro, small wind, biogas, and solar water heating.


Kenya is the world leader in the number of solar power systems installed per capita (but not the number of watts added). More than 30,000 small solar panels, each producing 12 to 30 watts, are sold in Kenyaannually. For an investment of as little as $100 for the panel and wiring, the PV system can be used to charge a car battery, which can then provide power to run a fluorescent lamp or a small television for a few hours a day. More Kenyans adopt solar power every year than make connections to the country’s electric grid. [ [ The Rise of Renewable Energy] ]

ee also

*Solar power in South Asia
*Wind power in Asia
*Indian Solar Loan Programme


External links

* [ Solar Offers A Future for Kenya’s Youth]
* [ Clean Energy Investment]

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