Weekly Review December 3-10

In honor of our upcoming event, Clean Tech That Matters, it’s only appropriate to report on articles discussing clean tech and alternative energy opportunities in emerging markets. Anytime you can get a group of ambitious techies, entrepreneurs, and investors in the same room, seeking extraordinary innovations in a time of favorable policy developments and continued market growth, it’s a time for celebration. If you like what you’re hearing, come find out more at Greentown Labs in Boston on Wednesday, December 14. Find out all the details here.

NextEnergy Capital is working to raise a fund for renewable energy projects in Africa.  About 80% of the funds will be invested in infrastructure projects; the rest will be invested in early stage technologies with the goal of bringing them to the African market. The fund manager is already working with European Merchant Bank to develop a €18 million 6.5 MW photovoltaic project in South Africa. Check out the article to find out all the details on the investors and other plans for the fund.
Power out of Africa” by Andrea Chipman on The Wall Street Journal
There’s no denying that Africa presents a huge opportunity for renewable energy development. The continent is described appropriately as a “blank canvas,” since infrastructure is currently unreliable or nonexistent. Meanwhile, renewable energy is increasingly cheaper, safer, and more efficient. In addition, most Africans are not connected to the grid and rely on diesel generators, costing them $1.00 per kWh, while solar PV power would only cost $0.20 per kWh. The difference in adoption usually comes down to the upfront expenditure cost differentials (PV is more costly upfront, but cheaper on an average cost of energy basis), which is why such solutions should be supported by government subsidies to promote adoption. An interesting article coming from the Wall Street Journal, it offers a great summary of renewable energy in Africa.
African nations move closer to EU position at Durban climate change talks” by John Vidal and Fiona Harvey on The Guardian
Climate change talks are very relevant to clean energy development in emerging markets, as developing countries are holding higher stakes and having a greater influence. The UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change in Durban, South Africa Conference of the Parties (COP17) wraps up this week. Propositions from COP17 include extending the Kyoto Protocol’s carbon reduction targets beyond 2012 and setting up “a new green fund ‘to keep Africa safe’ from climate change.” It’s very important that Africa plays a critical role in international talks as it is the continent that will be most deeply affected by climate change.  The Guardian’s overview offers a great overview of the highlights from the talk so far, and we’re looking forward to seeing the outcomes. (NB. This is only the second time the COP has been held it Africa. It was held in Nairobi, Kenya in 2006).
Econet Solar is a subsidiary of African mobile phone operator Econet Wireless. The subsidiary has launched a first-generation prepaid solar-powered home power station. It allows users to light their homes and charge their phones. Customers will pay for energy in a similar fashion to buying airtime. This is very similar to Simpa Networks’ Progressive Purchase Model, which actually allows users to work towards ownership.  Both solutions overcome the financial barrier of the up-front cost of the system.
#CleanTechThatMatters is on December 14th. 
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