Press release

Global renewables industry at tipping point as it seeks to reduce reliance on subsidies

London, 29 October 2012

  • Share
View the online version
 
Download the PDF

The renewable energy industry is at a tipping point as the developed markets start to close the door on generous subsidy programs and emerging markets develop cost strategies to compete with fossil fuels according to EY’s latest quarterly global Renewable energy country attractiveness indices report released today.


  • Emerging markets continue to thrive, opting for capacity tenders over government subsidies
  • China sees an outflow of investment in favor of Africa and South America
  • The US falls to third place behind Germany, in response to US energy policy uncertainty

Gil Forer, EY’s Global Cleantech Leader, comments: “Current global macro–economic drivers are reinforcing the role of emerging markets in the future global energy mix. As renewable energy technologies become more cost-competitive, the importance of government subsidies is set to decrease to create a sustainable growth platform for both developed and emerging markets, as well as manufacturers.” 

The indices provide scores in 40 countries for national renewable energy markets, renewable energy infrastructures and their suitability for individual technologies. During Q3 2012, China remained at the top of the All Renewables Index (ARI), but dropped a point as its solar sector continued the consolidation process in an effort to boost domestic installation and rationalize government support, which could slow growth in the more immediate term. In recent months China has also seen a large outflow of Chinese investment in favor of markets such as Africa and South America. 

The quarter also saw the US drop 1.5 points in the ARI, resulting in Germany moving up into second place ahead of the US. While the German government has recently increased the country’s renewable energy target for electricity to 40% by 2020 and is proactively implementing policy measures to create sustainable growth, the downgraded score reflects the more immediate changes around possible subsidy caps for solar, wind and biomass. 

Within the US, the uncertainty about long term US energy policy combined with concerns over the extension of key renewable energy incentives and the availability of low-priced natural gas are likely to continue slowing the growth in the sector in the short to medium term, particularly in the wind sector. 

However when looking towards the long-term, Forer comments: “Now that the US elections are behind us, we can likely expect new long-term momentum behind cleantech related regulations, such as EPA greenhouse gas regulations as well as Department of Energy and Department of Defense energy efficiency initiatives.” 

Clean energy investment hit by uncertainty
Globally, total clean energy investment fell 5% in Q3, to US$56.6b, with investor enthusiasm dampened by skepticism over policymakers’ renewable energy commitments and the continued decrease in solar and wind technology costs impacting on total investment values. 

New investment levels have varied globally – with investment in Europe, Middle East and Africa rising 7% to US$21bn in Q3 – mainly driven by solar thermal and wind project financings in Morocco. However, in the same period, investment in the Americas and Asia-Pacific slipped by 25% and 3%, to US$10.4b and US$25.2b respectively. 

Ben Warren, EY Energy and Environmental Finance Leader comments: “Political and regulatory uncertainty, working in tandem with constrained capital markets, continue to put the brakes on investment and deal volumes. Looking forward, market restructuring and the emerging secondary infrastructure financing market are likely to provide the momentum for future investment.” 

Emerging markets get back to basics
Having taken note of the lessons learnt across markets in Europe and the US, where high levels of subsidization have been the key driver of growth in the sector, governments in emerging markets are driving business models that work without direct subsidies or grants that could potentially compete head-on with conventional fossil fuel sources. 

The latest indices include Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the first time, reflecting the growing presence of the Middle East within the clean energy market, with the UAE ranked 35th in the index, two places above Saudi Arabia. The roll-out of solar initiatives places the UAE over Saudi Arabia in the Solar Index, while the reverse is true in the Wind Index based on natural resource. 

When looking at the global outlook for the clean energy industry, Forer summarizes: “While the reliance on government subsidies is decreasing, it should not be forgotten that until “grid parity” is reached in more regions, financing will still depend on the timing and nature of individual countries’ incentives and support regimes, a commitment to invest in grid infrastructure and connectivity, and the ability of projects to seek multiple partnerships and investors.” 

To download issue 35 of the Renewable energy CAI and previous issues, visit www.ey.com/CAI

-Ends- 

Notes to Editors

About the CAI

The Country Attractiveness Indices publication has been running since the beginning of 2003 and is distributed to over 4,000 people each quarter. It provides scores for national renewable energy markets, renewable energy infrastructures and their suitability for individual technologies.

The Indices monitors 40 entries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, UAE, UK and the US. 

How EY's Global Cleantech Center can help your business

From start-ups to large corporations and national governments, organizations worldwide are embracing cleantech as a means of growth, efficiency, sustainability and competitive advantage. As cleantech enables a variety of sectors, old and new, to transform and participate in a more resource-efficient and low-carbon economy, we see innovation in technology, business models, financing mechanisms, cross-sector partnerships and corporate adoption. EY's Global Cleantech Center offers you a worldwide team of professionals in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services who understand the business dynamics of cleantech. We have the experience to help you make the most of opportunities in this marketplace, and address any challenges. Whichever sector or market you’re in, we can provide the insights you need to realize the benefits of cleantech.

About EY’s Energy and Environmental Finance Group

With a dedicated team of over 100 international advisors operating from our global team, EY’s Environmental Finance Group helps private and public sector clients to increase value from renewable energy activity. The team covers established and emerging renewable technologies, providing advisory services from initial market entry strategies to commercial analysis, finance raising, and M&A transactions advice. 

About EY

EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. Worldwide, our 167,000 people are united by our shared values and an unwavering commitment to quality. We make a difference by helping our people, our clients and our wider communities achieve their potential.

EY refers to the global organization of member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. For more information about our organization, please visit www.ey.com.

This news release has been issued by EYGM Limited, a member of the global EY organization that also does not provide any services to clients.