By Isabella Kaminski

China has retained its place as the most attractive country for renewables, a position it has held since August 2010, according to a new report by Ernst & Young.

Ernst & Young’s latest quarterly global Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Indices show China attaining its highest ever score during this quarter, following increased support for shallow water offshore wind projects and the release of the ‘greenest’ five-year plan to date. The plan includes a target of 11.3% in primary energy generated by non-fossil fuels by 2015.

Overall, the indices show increasing diversity and broader renewable portfolios despite a difficult trading environment, says the report. The increasing commercial viability of different technologies such as offshore wind and concentrated solar power (CSP) is also providing new opportunities.

The US remains in second place this quarter as the battle over the future of its clean energy policy continues. Utility scale solar – both solar photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP) – projects have remained healthy despite the uncertainty, according to Ernst & Young, but wind projects have suffered, particularly in light of the continued suppression of gas prices in the US.

Meanwhile, Brazil rocketed four places to 12th position, as a result of strong growth in its wind market. It was one of the few countries in the top 20 to have a rising score, largely as a result of diminishing incentives and restricted access to capital, says the report. India continues to slowly climb the rankings, overtaking Germany in fourth position.

Ben Warren, Ernst & Young's environment and energy infrastructure advisory leader and author of the report, says: "Global events have had a significant impact on attitudes to renewable energy, with increased impetus in favour of renewables in Japan, the Middle East and a number of developing economies. Despite some momentum being lost in Europe largely as a fall-out of the economic crisis, the need for countries to diversify their energy mix and deliver security of energy supply suggests a continued robust outlook for the market."