By Matt Whitby
Business leaders meeting in Copenhagen have called for greater market certainty in order to ensure the successful growth of the renewable energy sector.
If a successful agreement to reduce CO2 emissions is reached during COP15, transforming the world into a low carbon future will require a huge expansion of renewable energy technologies.
Business leaders say more co-operation is needed between the public and private sectors in order to open up the market to renewable energy and encourage investment in green power.
Oliver Knight from the UK Aid groups Department for International Development says growth in renewable energy is essentially private sector driven but requires the right policies to be put into place.
“This requires good regulation, capital support and the creation of market incentives,” he says.
The Danes can do it
Delegates at COP15 can look to Denmark for a good example of renewable energy investment policies. Currently the host country generates around 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources, primarily wind power.
Two small Danish municipalities Thy and Mors in the countries north west now produce 100 percent of their electricity from renewable sources and 85 percent of their heat.
Spokesman for Thy&Mors Klimalosninger (climate solutions) Bertel Bolt-Jorgensen says feed in tariffs and tax incentives are essential to getting citizens to invest in renewable energy.
“In our area, renewable energy is a common cause and renewable energy saves us money, it is the cheapest in Denmark,” he says.
Mr Bolt-Jorgensen says the west of Denmark used to be known as the ‘rotten banana’ because everybody left to go to the main cities in the east. It is now called the ‘green banana’ named after all the clean energy producing wind turbines scattered down the coast.
Solar energy needs more investment
The growth in the wind industry in Denmark has been strongly supported by the government, to ensure it can compete with fossil fuels as an energy source.
It is this market support business leaders want to see happen in other countries around the world, such as Australia, where the solar power industry is waiting to take off.
The executive director of CBD energy in the Asia-Pacific region Mark Fogarty says lack of communication between the public and private sectors watered down large-scale investment in solar power, creating a liquid market.
Renewable energy not yet competitive
Increasing development in solar power technology has allowed it to become more competitive in the market, but it still lags behind fossil fuels in providing base load power.
The vice president of Scatec solar Terje Osmundsen says between 2008-09 the price of solar energy technology dropped by 50 percent
“We are already in a situation where we can make solar competitive in the market.
If we development continues, we can achieve a 60 percent reduction in costs by 2020,” he says.
If the right policies are put into place, business leaders are confident renewable energy will soon be able to compete with fossil fuels in the energy market.