The best markets for wind investment -- Spain, Britain and the US

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Spain has joined the UK in pole position as the most attractive national market for wind power in Ernst & Young's index of the best countries for future investment in renewables. Particularly strong in onshore wind, Spain also remains in first place of the overall renewable energy index. But the United States, listed third out of the 19 countries whose renewables markets are measured for the index, is tipped to take first place with the return of the country's production tax credit. The credit was renewed after release of the index.

Jonathan Johns from Ernst & Young says the UK remains attractive to wind power investors due to a new siting policy from the government, which limits the ability of local planning authorities to withhold consent for renewables projects. "In addition, renewable energy targets for each region in the UK are a distinct possibility. Both initiatives should lead to a pick-up in planning momentum," he says. "The UK's position is dependent on delivery of its offshore program, the underpinning provided by the Renewable Obligation Certificates introduced last year, and a recent hardening of brown energy prices."

strong support

Spain's lead of the quarterly global index is down to its partially deregulated power market with strong tariff support for wind, a positive planning environment and a high wind capacity target, says Johns. He says it is not surprising that many major European utility companies are continuing their large scale investment in the Spanish market, particularly in wind.

The index also reveals that most of the renewable energy markets in the developed world have declined in overall attractiveness. Only Portugal, Netherlands and Ireland have improved. This reflects the continued slowdown in markets due to regulatory bottlenecks, and the emergence of new markets, comments Johns. "Availability of conventional debt and equity finance remains a major constraint on the industry globally," he says.

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