Ernst & Young: China clear leader in renewable energy

Two days after Energy Secretary Chu calls China's advances in clean energy a "Sputnik moment" for the U.S., a report ranks China top in "country attractiveness" for renewable energy

Driven by a surge in wind power installations, China is building on its lead in Ernst & Young's ranking of top renewable energy countries.

Wind investment in China this quarter is nearly half of global spending, ensuring that one out of every two wind turbines to go live this year will be in China, according to consultants at Ernst & Young which does a quarterly "country attractiveness" index.

The U.S. will see a jump in large solar installations before the end of year because developers are rushing to start projects before the end of the year. In place of a tax credit subsidy, renewable energy projects can now get a grant but that policy may not be renewed.

Federal policy uncertainty and the financial markets have hurt the U.S. wind industry which is second in the global wind index. Low natural gas prices have also made solar and wind projects harder to finance.

The Ernst & Young report noted that South Korea, which is a large consumer of energy, has risen significantly based on a national policy and well developed supply chain.

Beyond solar and wind, China has elevated clean technology to a national strategic level, making it core to its future economic growth, said Ben Warren, the infrastructure advisory leader at Ernst & Young's UK Energy and Environmental, in a statement.

"Since reaching top spot in our Index in September, China has opened up a healthy gap from other markets. Cleantech, including renewable energy, represents a significant part of the country's future economic growth plans," he said. "The Chinese solar industry is also fast becoming of great importance in the global market place."

The report highlighting China's advances in renewable energy and green tech comes two days after Energy Secretary Steven Chu calling China's push into new energy technologies a "Sputnik moment" for the U.S. He said the U.S. needs to invest in clean energy research and development for economic reasons.

As "significant" up-and-coming entrants in clean energy, the Ernst & Young report cites South Korea, Romania, Egypt, and Mexico for their energy technology programs.