When the global economic crisis started to take hold in 2008, there were inevitable questions about the impact it would have on green initiatives. Would the crisis act as a catalyst for investment in sustainable industries? Or would it have the opposite effect and kill interest in the green sector? And what impact would it have on the energy plans of emerging economies?

Two years on, a global commitment to addressing future energy needs is driving a raft of green announcements in emerging markets. Earlier this year, the UK ministry for business, innovation and skills and India’s ministry for science and technology committed themselves to long-term collaboration on solar-power research and development. South Africa has received a boost in the form of a $500m investment from the Clean Technology Fund, which is part of the World Bank-backed Climate Investment Funds (CIF) initiative, and another €40m from the European Investment Bank to promote renewable energy and fuel efficiency. The CIF is also supporting countries such as Ethiopia, Honduras, Kenya, Maldives, Mali and Nepal in a series of pilot programmes aimed at helping them to scale up their renewable energy capabilities. And the Spanish government has lent the Kenya Electricity Generating Company €20m for a 10-megawatt (MW) wind farm project.


Large-scale green power projects are on the cards in locations such as Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil as a result of multi-million-dollar investments. Hydro-electric power is the energy source for the world’s most powerful high-voltage, direct-current (HVDC) link, between the Chinese provinces of Yunnan and Guangdong, which came on stream in June 2010.

Attracting the big bucks

Green technologies are attracting the attention of big business. Speaking at Siemens’ annual press conference in November, Peter Löscher, the president and chief executive officer of the German engineering conglomerate, said: “One out of every three euros that we invest in research and development goes into green technologies. Environmental technologies generated €28bn in revenue in 2010, approximately 36% of our total revenue. By 2014 we are counting on [green] revenue of more than €40bn.”

Other firms taking advantage of the fast-growing green market include Iberdrola Renovables of Spain and Brazilian company Neoenergia, which inked a joint deal earlier this year to develop nine wind farms in the South American country, capable of generating a total of 258 MW.

Wind power is also proving popular in the Middle East and north Africa region. According to Steve Sawyer, chief executive officer of the Global Wind Energy Council, the region expanded its development of this energy source by 38% in 2009. He says the region will continue to increase its usage of wind power, fuelled by favourable national policies and technological advances. 

Carbon dioxide-free city

Abu Dhabi’s creation of Masdar City – a special economic zone for renewable energy and clean technologies – has also attracted global attention with its plan to become the world’s first carbon dioxide-free city. This is one of the many future energy projects that Siemens is involved in and it is proving to be a showcase for a wide range of innovative technologies. Mr Löscher says: “Siemens is helping to build this city of the future. We will be installing smart grids and combining them with the most modern building technologies.”

Siemens is also constructing two combined-cycle power plants (which capture energy that is wasted in conventional engines) in India with a capacity of 1600 MW. Further projects in the country include a €70m investment in the building of a wind-turbine factory by 2012 and the installation of an HVDC transmission system, with a capacity of 2500 MW, which will connect the west coast of India with New Delhi. India has already made progress with its green energy generation and has managed to boost its total installed renewable energy capacity to more than 16.8 gigawatts in 2009/10.