The small pioneers of the future: Countries tackling green energy

Smaller countries take the lead on renewable energy. 

Kenya Solar

Photo: CAFOD Photo Library

If there was a race to sustainability, the developing economies  would be winning by a landslide. Figures by EcoWatch (2012), said that emerging markets saw a 143% growth in clean energy capacity, compared to 84% for wealthier, established economies.

As shown in the photo above in Kenya, rural villages are using solar technology to irrigate their crops . Kenya is a world leader in the number of solar panels installed per capita. Through its determination and drive, it now sells over 30,000 small solar panels annually each producing 12-30w. Furthermore, Kenya was the first African country to use geothermal power, and has the largest geothermal capacity in Africa at 200MW (Flavin et al, 2005)

Similarly, Uruguay is set on becoming one of the world’s leading wind power producers as part of plans to produce 90% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2015. Electricity generated from wind is expected to make up 30 per cent of the South American nation’s total mix, with hydropower contributing 45% and biomass 15% (Business Green, 2015). The recent energy revolution that has taken place in Uruguay will act as a plan for future countries to adopt similar policies.

When looking at these statistics, questions arise as to why developed economies cannot do the same. The Financial Times (2015), said that it can take as little as two years to build a wind farm; six months to erect a large solar plant and a day to put a solar panel on a roof.

Of course it would be unrealistic for larger economies such as the UK and America to follow exactly in these countries footsetps however, lessons can be learned. An argument raised by the Economist, (2012) saw important subsidies for renewables being dopped (at least on a per watt basis); America’s tax credit is being cut, and Britain has plans on ending subsidies for onshore wind.

If Britain and other countries intend to diversify away from fossil fuels, the obvious bet would be not to slash the subsidies in the first place. As climate change and the energy crisis becomes  more topical, post COP21, more developed countries should be subject to greater scrutiny on how they choose to allocate funds towards certain policies.

References, (2015). Uruguay set to become world leader in wind power. [online Available at: [Accessed 27 Dec. 2015].

Clark, P. (2015). Developing countries begin to take lead in green energy growth – [online] Financial Times. Available at: [Accessed 27 Dec. 2015].

Flavin, C. and Aeck, M.H., 2005. The potential role of renewable energy in meeting the millennium development goals. REN21 Network.

Pantsios, A., Mann, M., Resch, R. and Hyman, D. (2014). Developing Countries Invest in Renewables Twice the Pace of Industrialized Nations. [online] EcoWatch. Available at: [Accessed 27 Dec. 2015].

The Economist, (2015). How renewable energy can become competitive. [online] Available at: [Accessed 27 Dec. 2015].

Solar Panel Photograph: Bernd Sleker





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