According to the analysts at Ernst & Young , China continues to top the U.S. in the creation of green jobs and innovation in matters of renewable energy and Germany is also coming on strong with its own renewable energy agenda. The renewable industry, particularly wind, faces some global challenges, however. Here are the details.
* Ernst & Young's August 2012 renewable energy country attractiveness indices provides scores for countries based on their national renewable energy markets, renewable energy infrastructures and their suitability for individual technologies.
* According to the study, the U.S. is dealing with policy gridlock due to the upcoming elections and "policy-makers have yet to demonstrate the appetite to make long-term investment decisions that would necessitate short-term cost increases."
* The UK, Spain and Italy are also struggling with growth in the renewable energy industry due to credit crises and a lack of clarity for investors.
* Germany is pushing ahead with an ambitious renewables agenda, Ernst & Young reports, tying for second place with the U.S. in the renewable energy attractiveness indices. The country has introduced a midsize rooftop tariff and is compensating for losses caused by delays in offshore grid connection.
* According to the study, Asian countries have risen to the forefront of green job creation. China, for example, has quadrupled its solar capacity target to 50 GW by 2020 and Chinese policy-makers are addressing the oversupply of solar panels with accelerated domestic installations.
* Ernst & Young reports that the wind industry will see a challenging next couple of years due to the expiration of the U.S. Production Tax Credit (PTC) at the end of 2012. Developers are holding off on new activity until they find out whether the PTC will be secured.
* In China, wind energy activity is also on a decline due to governmental restrictions put in place to prevent overcapacity and grid bottlenecks. The Chinese wind market peaked at the end of 2011 at 20 GW and is predicted to settle over the course of the decade at about 15-17 GW per year.
* Ernst & Young reported that the imposition of duties of 73 percent and 60 percent on wind towers imported from China and Vietnam, respectively, as well as the anti-subsidy and anti-dumping tariffs imposed on solar imports, will provide some short-term relief to U.S. wind and solar manufacturers. However, a failure of Congress to pass the tax credits would negate any benefits that the duties and tariffs might have.
* The U.S. solar sector also faces uncertainty as congress debates the face of the Department of Energy's loan guarantee program with a Republican-backed bill that would phase out the program. The "No More Solyndras" bill has passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee's energy and power subcommittee and is now in the hands of the Senate, Ernst & Young reported.