Britain bucks global trend with 13% annual increase in renewables investment


Pew Trust report - Who's Winning the Clean Energy Race
Pew Trust report – Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race

The UK is one of three G-20 nations worldwide where investment in wind-ustry energy developments grew last year.

According to the independent Pew Charitable Trust, based in Washington DC, USA, the UK bucked the overall downward trend in EU wind industry investment last year.

The Pew Trust’s report – “Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race? 2013” – said investment in all clean energy technologies grew by 13% to £7.5 billion in the UK last year.

Britain defied the clean energy contraction that gripped the rest of Europe in 2013. Although clean energy investment in Germany, Spain, Italy, and France dropped by 40% or more, the United Kingdom experienced clear growth.

The UK was one of three G-20 countries to have investment gains last year, and it ranked fourth among G-20 nations. Most of this growth came in the wind sector, where investments increased by nearly 50% to $5.9 billion, on the strength of offshore projects and greater activity in public market financing.

The world’s largest offshore wind project, the 630-MW London Array, was completed in 2013, and major financing was secured for the 210-MW Westermost Rough Offshore Wind Farm.

The report also highlighted what it described as the UK’s “abundant offshore wind resources and ongoing commitment to develop the sector” as factors which have “helped to bolster clean energy investment, enabling the UK to jump from seventh to fourth among G20 countries”.

Phyllis Cuttino, Director of the Pew Trust’s Clean Energy Programme, commented: “Despite a slow recovery from a global recession and damaging policy uncertainty, the clean energy industry has established itself as a $250 billion component of the world economy

“While there was an overall decline in investment, there are signs that the sector is reaping the rewards of becoming a more mature industry. Prices for technologies continue to drop, making them increasingly competitive with conventional power sources”.

Although global clean energy investment in renewable sources, biofuels, smart energy, and energy storage fell 11% in 2013 to $254 billion, a number of developments indicate a promising future for clean energy.

First, the prices of leading technologies such as wind and solar have dropped steadily for decades and they are increasingly competitive with century-old and more financially volatile conventional power sources.

Second, clean energy manufacturers are moving forward and have effectively weathered withering competitive pressures, consolidations, and policy changes. Investor confidence about the long-term future of renewable energy was reinforced in clean energy stock indexes in 2013, which rose sharply over the year.

Third, markets in fast-growing, developing countries are prospering; these economies see distributed generation as an opportunity to avoid investments in costly transmission systems, comparable to the deployment of mobile phone masts instead of costly landline infrastructure. Even in the contracting markets of Europe and the Americas, which have affected the overall industry, policymakers are recalibrating rather than abandoning clean energy policies. 

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