• Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Uruguay place among the top 10
  • Climatescope report ranked 55 emerging nations in 2014

Latin America dominated the list of top emerging nations for clean-energy investments as governments across the region step up efforts to diversify their power supplies.

Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Uruguay attracted almost $20 billion in clean-energy investments last year, 16 percent of the total directed to the top 10 countries on Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s Climatescope ranking of emerging economies released Monday.

The region accounted for 14 of the top 30 countries evaluated for their ability to attract capital for low-carbon energy projects, with $23 billion in total investments last year, up 49 percent from 2013. The report ranked 55 emerging nations over the world in 2014.

“Latin America boasts higher clean energy penetration than any other region assessed on Climatescope,” said Ethan Zindler, a New Energy Finance analyst. “There is an explicit proactive effort in the policy side in these countries. There is also an openness to the private sector to participate in the energy generation sector.”

New Players

Of 26 Latin American and Caribbean nations surveyed, 10 have adopted targets to generate or consume specific amounts of clean energy, according to the report. In addition, 12 countries have held or plan to hold auctions where clean energy project developers compete for power contracts.

“That creates opportunities to new players,” Zindler said.

After years of strong economic growth, Latin American governments are seeking to ensure there is enough power to meet rising demand, said said Elbia Silva Gannoum, president of Brazil’s wind power association known as Abeeolica.

“These countries need to improve energy security, they need to diversify their sources,” she said. "Energy price elasticity in Latin American countries is very high, which means that any increase in power consumption results in a high increase in prices, affecting population."

Investment is increasing in the region because renewable energy has became more cost competitive. In several countries, wind and solar have reached grid parity, which makes them the best, low-cost option for new generation, according to the report.

Brazil and Chile

Brazil trailed only China on the ranking of 55 emerging countries. A total of $14 billion was committed to clean energy projects in Brazil in 2014, almost double the figure for 2013.

After a drought last year dragged down hydropower generation and boosted local power prices, the country stepped up efforts to expand renewable energy capacity. Clean power accounted for 18 percent of total new generation in 2014 as climbing electricity prices made renewables more attractive.

"Brazil’s auctions model brings security for investors," said Maria Luisa Cravo Wittemberg, investments manager of Apex-Brasil, Brazil’s agency for promoting exports and investments.

Chile Solar

Chile was No. 3 on the ranking, moving up one spot from last year. The country has emerged as a solar leader, first with merchant projects that sell power on the spot market, and more recently by introducing auctions that have attracted wind and solar developers.

Chile has a target of getting 20 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2025, up from 13 percent in 2014. A total of $2.1 billion was committed to clean energy projects in Chile in 2014, a 30 percent increase from 2013.

New investment in renewable energy in the 55 emerging nations evaluated was $126 billion in 2014, up 39 percent from the prior year. Globally, more than half of all investment in clean power went toward emerging markets, rather than wealthier, developed countries, according to the Climatescope.

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