Bloomberg recently published their 2011 energy survey on behalf of ABB. Energy Professionals, Government Policy Makers and CFOs were asked a series of questions about the funding and development of Renewable Energy sources. Most reports of the survey have concentrated on the high positivity surrounding the headline questions. It is worth looking more closely at the results which reveal subtle and important differences between different countries and the need for more in-depth consideration of how the stated aims can be achieved.
Power can be created in small scale projects such as roof-top solar panels or wind generators. Should these small scale electricity contributions be encouraged with taxation incentives?
- 85% – Yes – All respondents
- 90% – Yes – Government Policy Makers
- 78% – Yes – Energy Professionals
- 94% – Yes – China – Highest (with Mexico)
- 75% – Yes – USA – Lowest
Renewable energy sources are generally more expensive than fossil fuels. How should these renewables be funded?
- 60% – Governments (via incentives)
- 17% – Consumers (via higher energy bills)
- 23% – No funding – unless they are price-competitive, don’t use renewables
63% of Government Policy Makers as against 53% of Energy Professionals say Renewable Energy sources should be paid for via government incentives. An impressive 31% of Energy Professionals have the confidence to reject funding.
A question that is not asked is how the research required to push Renewable Energy into full commercial viability should be funded.
Every week for the next 20 years, a new 1GW power plant (and related infrastructure) will be needed to meet rising demand for electricity. Will your country meet the demand and always keep the lights on during the next 20 years?
66% – Yes
21% – No
13% – Don’t know
79% – Yes – Encouraging
21% – No – Alarmingly high
- Most confident – Germany
- Almost certainly No – Mexico
This is one of the few questions in the survey which sees the Don’t know having any real significance in either volume or import.
Energy professionals say we should upgrade electricity grids. Should governments incentivize power utilities to adapt smart grid technologies?
- 78% – Yes
- 15% – Should be considered
- 7% – No
It is this smart grid technology which has the potential to harness the power of small-scale generation of electricity from Renewable Energy sources. Here we find a significant difference between:
- 94% – Yes – China
- 67% – Yes – USA
China has declared its intention to invest heavily in smart grid technology and see long term financial benefits.
Only 34% of manufacturing and power companies have undertaken a company-wide energy assessment. Should energy assessments be mandatory for energy hungry industries?
This receives a pretty resounding 86% – Yes with only the USA, Germany and Japan returning results in the 70s. The question of what to do about the results of such assessments and who should foot the bills is not addressed.
Taken overall, the study returns very positive results about the need for action, support and incentives for renewable energy at government level. The U.S lags behind in its support for incentives, but this needs to be understood within the context of a strong political lobby believing that government intervention in business is unhelpful in the long-run. The powerful lobby on behalf of fossil fuel energy production also cannot be ignored.
In all countries there is an apparent difference between these results and actual government policies and actions. China can be seen at the moment as being the government which is putting their money where their mouth is most consistently. With a political history of belief in state intervention it will be interesting to watch the long-term effectiveness of these idealogical differences.