Flash Forward: A Review Of 5 New Renewable Energy Projects

While the last 6 months have seen a reduction in the volume of investment directed toward renewable energy projects, many organizations around the globe continue to dedicate significant resources toward the development of sustainable energy. In an effort to highlight some of the major announcements that have occurred over the last 2 weeks, I have included a summary of 5 major renewable energy investment projects which deserve to be recognized. Together, the 5 projects have attracted nearly US$3.5 billion in sustainable investment; investment, that will ultimately change the way that people and societies around the world work, dream, and play.

China: Aero Auto plans to build a US$179 million solar cell production factory in Shanghai

Last week, Chinese energy developer Shanghai Aero Auto Electromechanical announced plans to invest US$179 million in a new a solar cell production project.  The Shanghai based 200MW photovoltaic project, which will be funded through its subsidiary Shenzhou New Energy Development, will enable the firm to significantly increase the value of its total photovoltaic output; output, that is currently projected to be worth nearly US$2 billion. The project will be based out of the Pujiang Hi-tech Park in Shanghai, China.

South Africa: The World Bank plans to invest US $85 million in new renewable energy & co-generation projects

Just last week, the World Bank announced plans to invest US$85 million in renewable energy and co-generation projects in South Africa. The investments will come from the World Bank's Clean Technology Fund. From the US$85 million, approximately US$50 million will be used to support wind and solar renewable energy projects, while US$35 million will be invested in co-generation projects. Moreover, in addition to the US$85 million, the World Bank has allocated an additional US$65 million towards sustainable investment projects originating in South Africa. The US$65 million fund is currently being managed by the African Development Bank. Overall, despite a lack of clarity regarding the project outcomes, the announced funding should enable South Africa to diversify its electricity generation portfolio. Currently, South Africa generates approximately 88% of its electricity from coal. With amiable wind and solar conditions, the new investment should enable South Africa to add renewable energy generation capacity quickly (assuming that legislative and regulatory obstacles do not impede progress).

Russia: Rusnano and Renova allocate US$93 million toward the construction of Russia's first solar power station

This past week, Russian state nanotechnology firm Rusnano and energy conglomerate Renova announced plans to collaborate on the construction of Russia's first solar power plant. The plant, which will be built in the town of Kislovodsk (which is located on the Black Sea by Khevel), will be a 50/50 joint venture between the two companies. Initial announcements indicate that the plant will have a 12.3MW capacity. The plant is expected to be complete by 2012. As a first for its country, the new project is extremely important. Currently, Russia is completely dependent on gas, coal, and nuclear energy. While the Russian government has previously discussed expanding investment in renewable energy, this concrete announcement may open the door to future wind and solar based renewable energy projects.

India: Areva plans to invest US$3 billion in new Indian solar energy projects

Early last week, French energy giant Areva announced plans to invest US$3 billion in new Indian solar energy projects. Currently, Areva produces approximately 60 megawatts (MW) of energy from biomass-fuel stations based around India. In total, Areva leadership hopes that the new investment will enable the company to produce up to 1000MW of thermal energy extra using solar energy. While some were surprised by the announcement, India's potential as a future global renewable energy leader should not be over looked. In fact, according to recent reports originating from the International Energy Agency (IEA), India has the potential to generate a significant portion of the world's global solar power capacity by 2020. In total, analysts expect that, once the new projects are operational, Indian solar projects could produce nearly 27 gigawatts (GW) of energy by 2020.

United States: Campbell Soup Company invests $21.6 million in a new solar energy factory

Earlier this month, US soup manufacturer Campbell announced that it will be developing a new solar energy power plant in Ohio. The plant will provide energy exclusively for Campbell's main production plant, and will help the company meet its aggressive environmental and sustainability goals. According to industry reports, the solar facility is expected to cost US$21.6 million. The Ohio Department of Development is expected to be contributing a  US$10.5 million loan toward the project. Upon completion, the plant is expected to generate around 50 megawatts of power annually.