To put Australia’s position in the world of clean energy development into some perspective, the country is ranked just 13th in the quarterly Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness index produced by international accounting group Ernst & Young.
Despite promising to emerge from what Ernst & Young describes as a “renewable energy wasteland”, thanks mostly to the Federal Government’s planned but yet to be implemented renewable energy target, Australian ranks well behind the US, Germany, India and China, and trails a host of other European countries.
It’s a situation that has been lamented by renewable energy companies, and clean-tech investors for years. We were reminded of the situation earlier this month during a visit by James Cameron, the founder of a London-based investment bank, Climate Change Capital, a specialist in the clean-tech sector that is attracting some $200 billion of capital worldwide. Cameron says Australia is in danger of “missing the boat”.
If Australia is searching for ideas on how to mobilise such capital, it could look to the state of California, the largest economy within the US. Like Australia, California experiences strong population growth – it’s up 40 per cent in 30 years. Over the same period, while the rest of the US has increased its per capita energy use by 80 per cent, California’s has remained steady, according to a report released this month by Deutsche Bank.
And even while achieving this through a range of direct measures including an array of industry incentives and legislation, it has still managed to generate a higher GDP-per capita than the rest of the US and the 15 largest states in the European Union.