Two reports published last week reveal a 19% increase in overall renewable energy investment by developing countries in 2011 and 2012 -- including a number of large, grid-connected wind and solar plants in Africa. While China, Chile and Mexico significantly increased their investment in the energy sector, Middle Eastern and African countries exhibited the most growth, increasing spending by 228%. "Europe remains the biggest investor in [research and development] this year, but once developing countries can increase the profitability of renewable energy, it is likely they'll be investing more into R&D," said Angus McCrone, lead author of one report.

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