Geography Compass

A Timely Investment?

by Caitlin Douglas

US Pew Environment Group has released a report on clean energy that ranks countries based on their investment into clean energy (excluding nuclear power). China tops the chart, followed by Germany and the USA. As a result of a 70% drop in clean energy investment the UK has dropped out of the top ten and now ranks 13th.The UK’s fall has been attributed to policy uncertainty arising from last year’s general election and the formation of the coalition government. As seen in China, Germany and India, strong national policies on clean energy create long-term certainty for potential investors which lead to increased investment.

Continuing unrest in the Middle East plus concerns over the Japanese earthquake could make the traditional energy sector less attractive which may lead to greater support for clean energy. As a representative from Bloomberg New Energy Finance commented ‘It is hard to recall the last time that clean energy caused a catastrophe of any magnitude’.

Questions remain about the efficiency of clean energy and research is urgently needed to maximize its efficacy. Green et al. (2010) completed a review of wind energy and identified knowledge gaps that may hinder the longevity of wind energy in the face of climate change, and calls for academia to conduct policy relevant research to fill these gaps. Research of this kind could also help eliminate any perceived risks for investors, and encourage the adoption of green energy.

To read the news article: China tops clean energy table. BBC News, 29 March 2011.

To read the journal article:  Green et al. (2010). Wind Climatology, Climate Change, and Wind Energy. Geography Compass, 4(11): 1592-1605.

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