Ethiopia, Japan unveil $3 billion in solar power project

BY MAHALI KHAN / ANJAMED SABAHAN-AFP/Reuters Ethiopia, Indonesia and Japan announced Tuesday they have signed a deal to buy power from each other, ending decades of uncertainty and opening a $3.6 billion solar power program.

The deals were announced by the three countries at the International Solar Expo in Bangla and Jakarta, Indonesia, as the countries unveiled their renewable energy plans for the coming year.

The announcement came as countries in Southeast Asia were scrambling to meet the ambitious goal of doubling solar capacity by 2020 to meet a target of 100 gigawatts by 2030, and more than doubling the region’s energy mix to 80 percent from 20 percent.

But it comes as China, the world’s biggest polluter, is battling to cut its emissions by more than 2 billion metric tons by 2030.

The signing is part of a $6.4 billion ($6.7 billion) $20 billion global solar investment plan announced in the past week, which aims to get solar to 50 percent of the world by 2030 and 50 percent by 2050.

The deal was expected to create about 6,400 jobs, according to the countries.

The three countries said they would invest $1 billion each, with the U.S. contributing $1.3 billion and Australia $800,000.

They said they also would commit $300 million to developing renewable energy technologies.

China is aiming to double its solar energy capacity to 200 gigawatts (GW) by 2020, with Indonesia and India expected to surpass it, according the International Energy Agency.

Japan and Ethiopia have been negotiating for several years, with Japan and Ethiopia signing the pact in October, and then India and China signing in February.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo were scheduled to meet in Jakarta this week, but their schedules were postponed until June.

Japan had initially said the agreement would be signed next week, when Widodo and Abe would meet.

But the two countries have since canceled the signing and said they will not be signing.

The pact between the three nations is the latest in a series of agreements between the two largest economies in Asia, with China signing an $18.5 billion deal in November to boost renewable energy in the region.

In November, Indonesia agreed to buy $5.6 million worth of solar panels from Japan and to develop renewable energy technology for its energy ministry.