China, the most attractive country for renewable energy

China widened its lead over the United States as the most attractive country for renewable energy projects, following its greenest five-year plan to date, Ernst & Young LLP said.

China’s score out of 100 increased to 72 from 71 last quarter, while the US remained in second place at 67 points in the consultant’s quarterly Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index. India drew ahead of Germany to claim third place.

"This is principally due to China diversifying its renewables portfolio through an increased focus on offshore wind power and concentrated solar power," Ernst & Young said in the report. The group also cited new targets for renewable energy set in March in China’s 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015).

China has taken a lead in the wind power and solar energy industries in recent years, and last year, the China Development Bank Corp agreed to lend 232 billion yuan ($35.7 billion) to Chinese renewable companies.

The UN’s top climate-change diplomat, Christiana Figueres, said in January that China will leave "all of us in the dust" because of its commitment to win the "green economy race".

The 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), published in March, included targets to raise the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to 11.4 percent, cutting the energy used for each dollar of economic output by 16 percent, and the carbon emitted for each dollar by 17 percent.

Ernst & Young assessed criteria including regulations, planning barriers and access to capital, land and the electricity grid. China took the lead in August for the first time since the ranking started in 2003.

The March 11 tsunami that triggered a nuclear disaster in Japan has also added impetus to renewables, and particularly solar power in the past quarter, according to the report. Both China and Japan have said they’ll build more solar power plants following the disaster.