China and the United States remain the world’s most attractive renewable energy markets, according to EY’s latest Renewable Energy Attractiveness Index (RECAI) report published earlier this month, while France moved into third spot and India fell out of the top 3.
EY’s (formerly Ernst Young) bi-annual Renewable Energy Attractiveness Index is published twice a year and ranks 40 countries on the attractiveness of their renewable energy investment and deployment opportunities, providing one of the most succinct and respected insights into global renewable energy development around. Now in its 53rd edition and 17th year, EY’s latest RECAI highlights the industry’s march towards what EY describes as “a new phase of subsidy-free growth across the world.” Specifically, EY expects to see more and more projects competing in the market on their own economic and environmental merits, rather than bolstered by government support.
“In this more complex, subsidy-free environment, renewable developers must work harder and smarter to find the revenue certainty they need to finance or monetize their efforts,” explained Ben Warren, EY Global Power & Utilities Corporate Finance Leader and RECAI Chief Editor. “Europe has led the way with unsubsidized projects in areas with good renewable resources, and multiple projects across the Nordics, UK, and Spain are being developed which are backed by private investment and corporate PPAs to provide the required stability.
“For the renewable energy market overall, however, a future without government subsidy is one that will no longer be vulnerable to sudden shifts in policy, or to retroactive changes to promised tariffs. Instead, it will be one where market forces impose discipline, drive efficiencies and accelerate the cost reductions that have allowed the sector to stand on its own two feet.”
China and the United States unsurprisingly remained in the top two spots, respectively, while France moved into third position from fifth through its floating offshore wind capacity ambitions and doubling its annual onshore wind targets for capacity additions.
Other notable countries making gains on EY’s latest RECAI are South Korea, which moved up by seven positions to 24th, and Vietnam, which jumped up by 17 places to 26th, both of which are making efforts to increase new renewable plans, with 4 gigawatts (GW) and 475 megawatts (MW) respectively. Norway moved in to 36th position, up nine places, and Finland moved up by three spots to 39th, bouncing back with planned new investments shored up through Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs).
Conversely, political uncertainty in Mexico and Taiwan saw both countries drop positions to 19th and 33rd respectively.
“Thanks to rapidly declining costs, the competitiveness of renewables is no longer heavily tied to financial incentives,” said Benoit Laclau, EY Global Energy Leader. “The outlook for clean and renewable energy looks very positive, but it needs stable policies supported by a long-term vision. With these in place we can expect a large and stable market to develop, attracting investment beyond current expectations — from individual, corporate, government and financial sponsors.
“We continue to see strong moves towards an all-electric future, driven by growth in renewable energy and non-traditional end uses of electricity. We foresee a sustained growth in demand for clean, carbon neutral electricity driving investment in new energy technology, including battery storage and electric vehicle infrastructure.”
The United Kingdom retained its 8th position thanks in large part to the long-awaited unveiling of its Offshore Wind Sector Deal in March, covered in more depth here, which will see the country secure 30% of its electricity by 2030 from offshore wind farms — up from just 6.2% in 2017.
“While the Offshore Wind Deal is extremely positive news for the UK renewables sector and will help to attract significant investment over the coming years, the announcement regrettably follows the withdrawal of support for onshore renewables in 2016 that has slowed UK sector growth,” explained Ben Warren.
Another interesting movement in this latest RECAI edition is Australia’s step up into fifth place, gaining a position from the previous edition. EY highlighted the pending Federal election as a potential boon for the country’s renewable energy industry, though, as we have already seen, the Coalition Government’s shock return to power will likely put an end to that. However, EY nevertheless still sees hope for the country, with state policies helping to bring new renewable energy projects forward, especially in Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia.
The decision to increase Australia’s position reflects a resurgence in investment and policy sentiment towards renewables over the past year by both sides of politics,” said Matthew Rennie, EY Oceania Power & Utilities Leader, who spoke to me via email. “Investment in renewables is now firmly part of the mainstream choice of baseload options in the Australian bid stack.
“The recent outcome of the Federal election has had an immediate impact on the value of LGCs as the prospect of renewable energy targets fades from view, however we remain bullish on the prospects for renewables despite this. We are now beyond the tipping point where new renewables can be installed at lower cost than new coal fired power stations, and within 20 years we will have passed the point where new renewables will be cheaper than existing coal. These are not insignificant milestones. Put simply, the conventional wisdom has shifted; the future of the electricity system will be baseload renewables, with small amounts of coal, gas fired power and hydro providing the spinning inertia and capacity required to meet demand.”
“The outlook for the global renewables sector remains extremely exciting,” Warren concluded. “As renewable generation continues to become more and more affordable; increased levels of penetration are beyond doubt. It is perhaps the integration of renewables into the wider energy ecosystem, the sector’s contribution to the emerging low carbon e-mobility market and the integration with storage technology that will ultimately define the future for renewables.”