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Energy stocks unscathed in market tumble says Ernst & Young

Global investment in renewables could reach $750 billion within the next ten years at current rates of growth, according to Ernst & Young (E&Y). In its latest renewable energy "country attractiveness" index, which tracks and scores renewables investments, E&Y notes unprecedented growth rates in demand, driven by increasingly tough national targets for renewables in the US, China, India and the EU. Current growth rates of 20-30% led to $100 billion investment in the sector in 2006. E&Y's Jonathan Johns sees no signs of these levels cooling off. "Competition for assets is intense and trade players are increasingly battling for supply chain presence," he says. "Further takeover speculation has fuelled share price rises this year and while global trading markets have been tumbling, energy stocks appear to have escaped relatively unscathed for the time being." Over the second quarter of 2007, E&Y's all-renewables index remained fairly static. The biggest change was the three point rise up the table for the UK, from fifth to second position (which it shares with India and Spain). Publication of the UK government's Energy White Paper, which put renewables firmly at the centre of future energy policy, plus its proposals for speeding up the site permitting process were behind the rise. By a significant margin, the US remains atop both of the all-renewables index and the wind index as the best country for renewable investors. Legislation at both federal and state level is creating a dynamic market for renewables' business. India remains in second position on both indices. China continues to increase its score, moving up to fourth place on the back of its national climate change plan, including a requirement for energy companies to source 5% of their power from renewables by 2010. Overall, Johns says the outlook for the sector is very positive, although critical mass is becoming imperative for those companies that are serious about being real players in the market. "The ability to acquire and commercialise new technologies, enter new markets and diversify across the industry requires a strong balance sheet, a track record of raising finance for new acquisitions and a dynamic approach -- it's not for the faint hearted."

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