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Ten facts and forecasts that illustrate the demand for renewable energy in the developing world

OPIC is an active participant this week in Secretary Kerry’s Climate and Clean Energy Investment Forum, focused on clean energy and energy efficiency in the developing world. As the forum kicked off on Oct. 20, OPIC President and CEO Elizabeth L. Littlefield moderated a panel on the Clean Energy Transformation that featured multiple companies that are active investors in the developing world, including some OPIC partners. On Wednesday, OPIC Chief Operating Officer John Morton will lead a panel on Scaling up Finance for Clean Energy.

OPIC President Elizabeth Littlefield moderates a panel on clean energy.
OPIC President Elizabeth Littlefield moderates a panel on clean energy.


Discussions at the forum have underscored the massive need for additional power and the significant opportunity to introduce more renewable energy in both utility-scale and off-grid projects.

Here are some of the key details discussed:

  1. 1.3 billion people in the world lack access to electricity. That’s almost five times the population of the U.S.
  2. There are more people in the world today who lack access to electricity than when Thomas Edison was alive. Population growth makes providing electricity a constantly moving target.
  3. At least 90 developing countries have committed to renewable resources with specific commitments to increased deployment.
  4. Africa added more renewable energy in 2014 than in the previous 14 years combined.
  5. There are more cell phones than people in the world. This is significant to the deployment of renewable energy since many off-grid solutions such as rooftop solar, provide for payment by mobile phone.
  6. There are more diesel generators than people in Nigeria. Diesel generators are typically used when there is no other source of power available. The large number of diesel generators speaks to the great need for more electricity.
  7. Global solar power capacity doubled and wind power capacity more than doubled between 2008 and 2011.
  8. A growing portion of energy production will be decentralized. Inderpeet Wadhwa, CEO of Azure Power, an OPIC partner, predicted up to 30 percent of future energy production will be decentralized to reach more remote communities.
  9. The cost of solar power has fallen from about 20 – 25 cents per kilowatt hour in 2009 to six cents per kilowatt hour today.
  10. OPIC has committed about $1 billion a year for the past five years to renewable energy projects in the developing world. Learn more about OPIC’s work in renewable energy.


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