Political support and clear policies are proving critical for renewable energy market growth.
Welcome to the 2012 global economy. Growth in many countries is faltering and unemployment rates are stagnating. Even the rapid growth countries are showing signs of slowdown. Some five years after the start of the financial crisis, economies are yet to recover and fiscal deficits continue to ricochet across borders.
In the West, such economic difficulties-together with a resurgence of cheap gas-have yet to translate into bold policy announcements. With voters weary of recession and squeezed by ever-increasing demands on their finances, policy-makers have yet to demonstrate the appetite to make long-term investment decisions that would necessitate short-term cost increases.
In Asia by contrast, green job creation schemes have surged to the forefront of debate, with countries competing to set out the most ambitious plans. This theme of Asian innovation plays out in this edition of our Country Attractiveness Indices (CAI), where China has reinforced its top spot position in our league table.
Having quadrupled its solar capacity target to 50GW by 2020, Chinese policy-makers are also addressing the oversupply of panels through accelerated domestic installations, which may help it weather the storm of import duties raining down from across the Pacific.
The US, however, has lost points in the index this quarter and now has to share second place with Germany. The contrast between these two markets couldn’t be starker. While the upcoming November elections have led to policy gridlock in the US, Germany is pushing ahead with its ambitious renewables agenda, including the introduction of a new mid-size rooftop PV tariff (despite cuts elsewhere) and compensating for losses caused by offshore grid connection delays.
Elsewhere, Spain and Italy’s sovereign credit crises have continued to drag them further down the index, while the UK’s plethora of policy announcements this quarter have garnered little clarity for investors.
The continued development of emerging markets, by contrast, offer most hope for the sector. South Africa’s US$8.8b (€7b) tender program could open doors for the rest of sub- Saharan Africa, and Saudi Arabia’s US$109b (€87b) solar plan could signal a new green dawn for the Middle East.
South America, led by Brazil, is already showing great potential, and Japan has reinvigorated renewable development following a highly attractive new tariff scheme.