Britain in ‘make or break’ year for renewables, says EY

The UK "must try harder" to attract investment into renewable generation capacity, as the global power market enters "a year of reckoning", analyst EY has warned.

EY’s quarterly Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index (RECAI), released this week, claims “a lack of regulatory clarity” from central Government has seen the UK join the likes of Saudi Arabia, Poland, and Australia as countries which are entering a critical 12 to 18 months to increase renewable project roll-outs.

RECAI chief editor Ben Warren said: “Many commentators have talked about the decline of government support as being the beginning of the end. We have long talked about the need for the sector to wean itself off the drug of subsidies, and it now appears to be doing just that, like it or not.

“2015 was testimony to the increasingly compelling economic case for an energy market that is redefining the boundaries of how we generate, store and consume energy. As such, it looks like 2016 will be a year of reckoning for the global power market on many levels.”

The report states that the UK, Italy, Spain and Greece suffered from a weak 2015, with “fundamental underlying challenges” making 2016 a critical year for these markets.

It cites the business U-turns made by Sun Edison – one of the world’s largest clean energy developers – in the UK as an example of the need for businesses to sever ties with subsidised funding.

Internationally, China, Germany, France and Sweden ranked among the top markets with EY labelling opportunities in these countries as ‘mature and steady’. The US, Brazil, India and South Africa were considered “rising stars”, with market growth in these countries showing no signs of slowing down.

League of laggards

Despite the lack of public backing from Government, 2015 saw the UK break numerous renewable energy records, while construction on the world’s largest offshore windfarm off the coast of Yorkshire was given the green light.

However, separate recent figures released from the European Wind Energy Association revealed that the UK slipped into fourth place – down from second – in Europe for the amount of wind capacity added in 2015, with less than 1GW of operation wind farms installed.

September saw the UK drop out of the top 10 of EY’s respected international league table on renewable energy for the first time since its inception 12 years ago. EY previously lamented the UK’s decision to tackle climate change whilst also reducing subsidy support for solar and onshore wind, labelling the decision as absurd.

Matt Mace

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