Brazil, Nicaragua and Panama have been ranked the most attractive countries for clean energy investments in Latin America and the Caribbean by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) and the Multilateral Investment Fund.
The partnership has developed Climatescope – a review of the environment for low-carbon in the region, ranking 26 countries on their climate policies, the availability of climate finance, low-carbon businesses and clean-energy value chains, as well as their greenhouse gas management activities.
Brazil, the world’s fifth largest economy, was number one in the ranking, and attracted 80% of the $90 billion invested in clean energy in Latin America and the Caribbean between 2006 and 2011.
Brazil has the largest number of low-carbon businesses and clean-energy value chains of the assessed countries, as it has a complete value chain for three of six clean energy subsectors: biofuels, biomass and waste, and small hydro.
However, in terms of clean energy investments made in relation to GDP, Nicaragua beat Brazil. Last year, about $117 million and $95 million went into financing new geothermal and wind projects in Nicaragua, respectively.
The nation also has the region’s most developed green microfinance sector, with a total of ten microfinance institutions focusing on climate and clean energy finance, helping it reach second place in the overall rating.
Panama was ranked number three in the region, largely due to enabling frameworks such as tax relief, clean energy auctions and biofuel blending mandates, that have led to strong growth rates in clean energy generation. Renewables accounted for 13% of the total installed power capacity in Panama last year.
But BNEF also said that while Panama's policy framework is ambitious, it “must mature to prove its effec¬tiveness in encouraging clean energy deployment and technology diversification”.
Overall, Latin America and the Caribbean only attracted 10% of clean energy investment globally in 2011.
“Latin America and the Caribbean remain fundamentally under-invested to date,” said Michael Liebreich, chief executive of BNEF.
But he added that because of favourable global market conditions for clean energy equipment along with uncertainty in some traditional markets, investors are looking to new markets.
“Thanks to today’s … low clean energy equipment prices, new capacity can be installed in some nations entirely economically – without the benefit of subsidies,” he said.
The official launch of Climatescope will take place on 19 June during the week of the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil, at which point the entire ranking will be published.
By. Elza Holmstedt Pell