Saudi Arabia’s influential oil minister Ali Al Naimi recently said, “We have embarked on a program to develop solar energy. Hopefully, one of these days, instead of exporting fossil fuels, we will be exporting gigawatts of electric power.”
So, what happens when the biggest global exporter of petroleum liquids starts vouching for the power of the sun?
Given this scenario, let us examine the top five emerging solar energy markets from an investment point of view.
China has become the global hub for solar PV manufacturing, producing nearly 75% of the world panels. But the country is also a major market for solar deployment. The recent spurt of investments in China’s solar sector proves that some of biggest firms in the world like Apple Inc. believe in China’s potential as an attractive global solar investment prospect. In order to curb its rising greenhouse gas emissions, the world’s biggest carbon emitter has already increased its solar target for 2015 from 12 to 17.8 gigawatts.
The recent ‘Re-Invest’ campaign in India saw commitments of almost $200 billion towards Indian renewable energy development. Judging from these investments in its solar sector, India could well be a hotbed for the next solar revolution. US-based Sun Edison and First Solar have already committed to constructing around 20,000 MW of renewable power capacity in India over the next five years. China is also showing interest in investing in the Indian solar manufacturing sector.
3. Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia announced a $109 billion solar plan in 2012, but this plan was officially delayed by eight years this January. Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al Naimi shocked many by indicating that his country has embarked on a program to develop solar energy. The desert kingdom utilizes a lot of its oil for domestic electricity needs which leads to an unreasonable increase in its internal oil consumption. According to a recent report titled ‘Saudi Arabia Solar Power Market Forecast & Opportunities, 2020’, Saudi government will aim to add up to 54 GW of power by 2032 from renewable sources, 41 GW of which would be from solar power alone.
Japan is all set to embrace solar power after Fukushima disaster effectively shuttered its nuclear industry. Goldman Sachs has recently decided to increase its clean energy investments in Japan. In another important development, Solar Power Inc. has also decided to set up more than 500 MW of photovoltaics in Japan through a joint venture. Japan has tripled its renewable energy capacity to 25 GW of which solar accounts for more than 80%.
Pakistan, with China’s assistance, recently commissioned one of the world’s biggest solar plants at Bahawalpur in its Punjab province. The plant will generate around 100 MW initially and more than 300 MW by the end of 2015. Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park has been constructed by China’s Tebian Electric Apparatus Stock Company. In addition, Chinese companies plan to invest close to $30 billion in Pakistan’s solar sector in coming few years. Poor connectivity to the national grid in remote areas and the erratic flow of water due to unpredictable rain patterns makes solar energy an ideal bet for Pakistan.
There is little doubt that Pakistan is one of the most promising solar energy markets in the world.