If private investment is an indicator of what is in vogue (and profitable), renewable energy is certainly trending. At the UN Climate Change Conference the independent US government agency, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), announced that it committed $1.1 billion in financing for the renewable sector during fiscal year 2011, up from just $10 million in 2008.
OPIC works to mobilize private sector investments in emerging markets; supporting projects that both benefit the social and economic development of the host country, as well as create growth and jobs for the US. This year, clean energy projects drastically increased, with investment in everything from solar power to biomass production.
Some of the notable projects include financing for 51 solar plants in Thailand in collaboration with local banks; building the first wind power facility on St. Kitts which produces up to 30% of their energy demand; the first political risk insurance contract for the Reduced Emissions and Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) project in Cambodia to protect forest that sequesters 8.7 million metric tons of CO2; $500 million in financing for investment funds in the renewable resources sectors of South and Southeast Asia and Africa; and expanding a geothermal plant in Kenya to double it’s operating capacity.
This year’s projects generated ten times more megawatts from OPIC-supported renewable energy sources than in 2010, and saved triple the amount of CO2 emissions.
“The fact that OPIC’s renewable resources commitments have grown from $10 million in FY2008 to $1.1 billion in FY2011 demonstrates the vast scale of opportunity in the sector, which only stands to grow as more developing countries invite investment and more investors respond positively.” OPIC president, Elizabeth Littlefield says. “This is what we call ‘renewing the future.’”