Global Smart Grid Activity Heating Up

At the end of Q2 2012, China continued to dominate the worldwide renewable energy market, with Germany and the U.S. nose-to-nose in second place, and India and the U.K. just behind, according to Ernst & Young’s latest quarterly Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Indices (CAI) report. Activities centered strongly around the smart grid.

Despite this, Ernst & Young highlighted that on the back of US$4.5 billion (€3.4 billion) in government stimulus grants allocated in 2009, the U.S. smart grid has enjoyed tremendous growth during the past 3 years. More than 100 projects have been directly financed, boosting the total smart grid spend in North America to about $5 billion, for the first time.
Germany, meanwhile, gained a point to create a second-place tie with the U.S., attributable to the government’s proactive approach to addressing barriers to offshore wind development and creating stability in the solar sector. Both it and France are 2 of the most closely watched markets in Europe this year – with about 45 million and 35 million smart meters to deploy, respectively, representing a combined opportunity of around €10 billion ($12.8 billion).

Solar turbulence

While the solar market continues to expand rapidly worldwide, including in the developing BRIC nations, there has been turbulence in some of the major markets. A roundup appears below.

  • China is battling World Trade Organization disputes on several fronts (including the U.S. and Europe), based on allegations of dumping and subsidizing its solar goods.
  • The United States’ solar sector also is currently at the center of a debate about its Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program.
  • Germany is finally enjoying some certainty in its solar sector.
  • Japan took action on its commitment to renewable energy, in the wake of the tragedy of Fukushima.
  • In the United Kingdom, Q2 saw some clarification of support for small-scale solar projects, ending months of confusion.
  • Italy confirmed FIT cuts averaging 39 to 43% in its fifth Conto Energia in July, with an effective date at the end of August.

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