Investment in renewable energy projects, mainly solar, rose to nearly half of the total investment — the highest level ever as a share of total investment — despite a sharp decline in private investment in energy, transport, and water infrastructure in developing countries in the first six months of 2015, according to an update released by the World Bank Group’s Private Participation in Infrastructure Database.
Total private infrastructure investments for the energy, transport, and water sectors in 139 emerging economies dropped by more than half, from $53 billion in first six months of 2014 to $25 billion in the first six months of 2015, mainly due to a decline in the number of projects in Brazil, China, and India, the World Bank said, adding investments in other countries remained steady.
“The top countries by private investment totals were South Africa, Colombia, Mexico, Chile, and Brazil. These five countries together attracted $11.9 billion, representing 47 percent of global commitments in the developing world in the first half of 2015. Regionally, Latin America and the Caribbean region continued to lead, followed by Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and Central Asia, East Asia and Pacific, South Asia, and the Middle East and North Africa,” the statement said.
The total number of projects stayed relatively stable at 124 (from 132 the year before), with a focus on investments in renewable energy projects — energy generated from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides and geothermal heat, the statement said, addin that unlike the first half of 2014, when transport dominated global investment, this year saw all forms of energy projects capturing 64 percent of the total investments while transport captured 32 percent and water 4 percent, according to the updated database.
“Renewable energy projects alone accounted for an impressive 59 percent of total projects with 74 out of 124 projects in the first half of this year,” said Clive Harris, practice manager, Public-Private Partnerships, World Bank Group. “Solar alone comprised over one-third of all energy investment, while coal made up only 6 percent. Also despite the headline drop in investment commitments, activity in countries outside of Brazil, China, and India remain at levels similar to recent years.”
Partly driven by South Africa’s renewable energy program, investment commitments in green energy hit its highest share ever of global private investment at 49 percent — $12.4 billion of $25.3 billion. South Africa alone secured 16 renewable deals totaling $4 billion, while Chile, Morocco, Pakistan, Jordan, and Brazil closed an additional 26 renewable projects worth $5.3 billion.
In addition to the high investment in renewables, the data show a trend toward smaller projects that reverses a decade-long tendency toward increasingly larger projects. The average deal size in the first half of 2015 fell to $205 million, roughly half the average size in the first half of 2014. This trend coincides with an exceptional number of renewable projects—which tend to be smaller—as well as a notable absence of megaprojects.
Covering the period from 1990 to the first half of 2015, the database reviews more than 8,000 projects across 139 low- and middle-income economies and provides a rich source of data on private infrastructure investment in emerging markets.