Multinational consultancy firm Ernst & Young (EY) released its quarterly Renewable energy country attractiveness index (RECAI) report on Tuesday, highlighting the trials and tribulations of 2013, as well as the possibility of a much brighter future in 2014.

While the RECAI report revealed that 2013 saw an 11% decrease in global investment, emerging markets, new sources of income and an renewed focus on efficiency and resilience have led EY to declare that 2014 might see a major rebound in terms of the renewable energy sector.

Gil Forer, EY’s global cleantech leader, said: “The 2013 fall in global investment reflects another challenging year for the renewables sector, with policy uncertainty in particular reducing investor appetite across many markets. However, it also reflects a maturing sector, with falling technology costs filtering through to lower investment requirements: increasing the dollar power per megawatt. We must now therefore focus on what needs to be done to maximize investment and deployment in light of the fact renewable energy is becoming increasingly cost competitive.”

The index, which ranks 40 countries based on their potential in terms of renewable energy investment and opportunities for growth, was paced by the US, who once again took the top spot on the list.

The report was quick to point out that China, ranked second on the list, is quickly catching up to the US, thanks to the development of 12GW of solar capacity in 2013 and attempts by the country to speed up market recovery. Germany remained in third place, but is wavering thanks to the threat of subsidy cuts.

Thanks in large part to “mixed policy signals on the country’s long-term energy strategy” and the stagnant development of multiple offshore wind projects, the UK dropped one spot to fifth on the list this quarter. It was overtaken by Japan, which shot up the rankings thanks to promising market growth and a growing offshore sector.

The report also discussed the countries to watch for in 2014, including Uruguay, Malaysia, Indonesia, Kenya and Ethiopia. The index predicts that these expanding markets in developing countries will “likely displace European markets with limited growth potential” in 2014.

When analysing major trends in the new year, EY stated that resilience, efficiency and effectiveness will be the biggest keys for a bounce-back campaign in 2014. The report stressed the importance of world governments to “depoliticise” energy talks in order to prevent stalled development, as well as the need for businesses to learn to adapt to the many economic and political disturbances that always seem to sidetrack the renewable energy industry.

Ben Warren, EY’s global cleantech transactions leader, said: “In short, ‘efficiency’ and 'effectiveness' need to be this year’s buzzwords. The market should be setting its sights on: value chain integration, consolidation on a global scale, repowering, transaction and capital efficiencies and technology improvements. Renewable energy is now a truly global market, and stakeholders must develop a global strategy and a global supply chain, be flexible to market changes, and be willing to go in search of new markets.”

The report mixed both the good and bad in regards to the current status of the renewable energy sector, but with new venues, innovative technology and a refined focus on achieving new trends and goals, 2014 might be the most promising year in quite some time for the renewables industry.

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