Stronger green energy policies can help G-20 nations, wind power and the planet

Nations can experience tremendous renewable energy investment growth over the next decade by adopting enhanced energy and climate policies, according to a new report by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The 77-page report found investments in wind power and other renewable energy assets in G-20 countries are projected to reach $189 billion by 2020 if governments implement no additional policies.

Financing increases to $212 billion if the G-20 countries enact the pledges they made shortly after the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen last December.

The report released Wednesday also found investment could reach $337 billion annually in 2020 — a 160% increase compared with 2010 investments in renewable energy assets — if “comprehensive and effective measures are introduced” to take full advantage of the global clean energy economy.

In terms of the European Union, the report said, “Member States are expected to attract $56 billion in annual investments by 2020 under current policies, $62 billion if Copenhagen pledges are met and $85 billion if enhanced clean energy policies are pursued.”

Members of the world’s wealthiest nations, or the G-20, include the EU, France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom.

The report said neither current policies nor emission-reduction targets pledged under the Copenhagen Accord can maximize renewable energy investment or meet goals for curbing global warming.

“If clean energy policies are strengthened significantly in the coming years, we project that $2.3 trillion will be invested in clean power assets over the next 10 years, offering companies and countries enormous opportunities to compete for investments, jobs and export markets,” the report said.

The report also noted “wind energy will continue to be the leading recipient of large-scale asset financing through 2020, reflecting its status as a relatively mature and cost-competitive, large-scale clean energy technology.”

Under the enhanced clean energy scenario, the report says, asset financing in wind is projected to be $190 billion — an increase of 222% over 10 years.

The report was published at the same time that the UN annual conference on climate change is taking place in Cancun.

In addition, the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) has just published a report saying Europe needs to increase its cuts to greenhouse gas emissions from 20% to 30% by 2020 compared to 1990 levels to boost economic growth, maintain its technology leadership and keep climate change in check. The EWEA report also says wind energy can play a crucial role in helping Europe meet a 30% target.

By Chris Rose,