There has been a rush of investment into renewable energy in recent years. In 2007, global wind energy capacity grew by 27% and solar energy sales grew an estimated 50%.
Ernst & Young produced a report that offers insight into where future growth is likely to occur by examining a variety of indices including long-term wind, near-term wind, and all renewables.
The top five prime nations for renewable energy investment are:
1- United States
The U.S. has particularly high scores in the areas of onshore wind, solar, and infrastructure. The sheer size of the country provides an advantage with plentiful wind, solar, and agricultural resources. The U.S. is in second place for installed wind energy capacity and in forth place for total installed solar pv capacity in 2007.
This high score is likely to decrease if the Production Tax Credit expires at the end of the year. Both presidential candidates however support a cap and trade system for carbon, creating another means to promote renewable energy.
Despite taking second place, Germany outscored the U.S. in the offshore wind, solar, and biomass/other categories. Legislation in Germany, including feed-in tariffs guaranteed rate for electricity generated from solar energy. Germany was the leading nation for both wind energy and solar capacity and became the leading solar pv producer in 2007.
Just behind Germany, India has a high score for onshore wind and infrastructure, but lags considerably behind the U.S. and Germany for offshore wind. India will see considerable growth in hydropower, with plans for 143 projects totally 20 GW of generation capacity. India has the fourth highest capacity for wind energy.
The U.K. and Spain are tied for forth place. Spain scored well for onshore wind and solar energy, but much lower in offshore wind energy. The Spanish government recently boosted the solar industry by agreeing to subsidize the first 1,200 MW of solar capacity installed. Spain ranked 2nd after Germany for new solar pv installations in 2007. Spain ranks third, just behind the U.S. for total installed wind energy capacity.
5- United Kingdom
The U.K. has the highest score in offshore wind energy, but had a weak score for solar energy. The requirement to generate 15% of electricity from eligible renewables by 2015 has fueled the renewable obligation certificates market.
Photo Credit (bottom photo): Kiril Lozanov of Solar Service Inc. of Niles, IL