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Renewable energy investment: a tale of two continents

In 2010, Europe was spearheading the international clean energy revolution, accounting for $131.7bn of investment in renewable technologies – 45% of the global total. Over the past five years, that level of investment has plummeted by more than half, to $58.5bn – just 18% of the global total.

Why has an age of belief been so quickly replaced by this epoch of incredulity for Europe’s renewable energy investors?

In the UK, cutbacks in subsidy support and a chop-and-change approach to green policy have dented confidence in the renewables market – as confirmed by our own MPs earlier this month. In 24 hours, Renewable Obligation Certificate subsidy support for new projects will cease to exist – the latest in a line of controversial policy changes that, regardless of intent, are evidently deterring investors.

It is through the lens of this policy paradox that the EU Referendum must now be considered. We heard this week that the Brexit vote will, itself, propose a paradox for the clean energy industry – do we want a system where it is easier to develop renewables infrastructure in the UK, but there is no strong incentive to make it happen?

As Easter passes, now is the time for policymakers – at both a domestic and European level – to emerge from a winter of despair into the spring of hope for the renewable energy industry.

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