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Nations strive to thrive in renewables league

Is attractiveness in the eye of the beholder? Not according to Ernst & Young, at least in the field of renewable energy.

The accountants have just released their latest ‘renewable energy attractiveness index’ which looks at some very defined characteristics of what offers promise for renewable development in a nation.

It’s no good just fluttering eyelashes; you need innovative finance and opportunities for investment, subsidies, grid capacity and decent working relationships with your neighbours to rank highly here. Oh, and you need to be faring fairly decently against the economic conditions we find ourselves in. Being up-and-coming has never been so hard – but it hasn’t stopped some rising stars.

Ireland, Morocco and Chile (all up two) are the biggest leapers since the table was last published, but South Africa, Japan and Australia (all up one)and others seem to be on the winning trail too. The ‘working with your neighbours’ aspect is becoming increasingly important: Ireland’s success is in part due to new export arrangements with the UK, and Australia is being helped in their aims by industrial association with top of the table China.

All the while, two of Europe’s nations that have suffered most harshly due to the recession, Greece and Spain, have seen their stock slide, despite being early trailblazers, with their plethora of sun and breezy coastline.

All this is well and good, but where is the UK at, you may ask? A non-mover at number six, with Japan closing in on its tail. Not bad at all, but Ernst & Young point to political/investor uncertainties for the relative state of stasis.

This is not the only report that has been making claims about the future of renewables. The RHC-Platform has reported on the future of solar heating and cooling in particular. It says that the technologies could make a big contribution to renewable energy technologies meeting a quarter of EU heat demand by 2020, due to it having the highest growth potential of heat technologies in the coming years. You can check out the findings in full via this link.

Of course, all of these standings, projections and predictions go to the heart of the complexities of engineering low-carbon change on a large scale. Trade, skills and affordability are key factors – but then there are always new developments to consider like the possible enthusiasm for tapping shale gas deposits worldwide. Energy supply has always been about getting the mix right, and on that front, there are clearly very interesting times ahead.

Gary Hartley is Energy Saving Trust's expert blogger. He has extensive experience researching and writing on a number of topics, with particular expertise in sustainable energy, policy, literature and sport. As well as providing regular blog content, Gary has also been published in numerous magazines and journals.

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