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Long-term growth of renewable energy requires structural change

EY’s latest renewable energy attractiveness index (RECAI) reported little movement among the top ten markets for renewable energy installations, as governments and industry players continue to bide their time amid ongoing instability. 

China and the USA maintained the first and second positions respectively in the top 40 ranking, while the UK fell one place to eighth as concerns grew around the outcome of Brexit.

“An uncertain political climate – particularly the continuing trade disputes between the USA and China, among others – compounded by the increasing scarcity of subsidies, presents a challenging backdrop to the maturity of the renewables sector,” said Ben Warren, EY global power and utilities corporate finance leader and RECAI chief editor.

In the long term, however, renewable energy will be the technology of choice in electricity markets with almost two-thirds of global capacity additions to come from clean power by 2040, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The IEA expects the share of renewable energy in the global power mix to surge to 40 percent by 2040, up from 25 percent today. The association also stressed that more than two-thirds of investment into the overall power generation sector will be government-led. Therefore, the right policies and incentives must be put in place to spur-on development of renewable power sources.

“Our analysis shows that over 70 percent of global energy investments will be government-driven and as such the message is clear – the world’s energy destiny lies with government decisions,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director. “Crafting the right policies and proper incentives will be critical to meeting our common goals of securing energy supplies, reducing carbon emissions, improving air quality in urban centres, and expanding basic access to energy in Africa and elsewhere.”

IEA added that increased renewable energy installations will bring environmental benefits but also a new set of challenges that policymakers will have to address.

“With higher variability in supplies, power systems will need to make flexibility the cornerstone of future electricity markets in order to keep the lights on,” said the report. Increased solar and wind capacity will need market reforms, grid investments, as well as investments into smart meters and battery storage technologies.

This article is taken from the Capital Projects and Contracts newsletter. 

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