100% Green Electricity: the Battle over Investment

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Countries look forward to attract investment. Photo: Tim Snell/Flickr

Scotland and Albania want to produce 100% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Their commitment, both prime ministers argue, is not only a huge step towards a more sustainable society but will also comprise the creation of thousands of “green collar” jobs. This is good news for the environment and also for their respective populations. But with little more than 8 years to go, isn’t this target too ambitious for the nations’ actual capacities?

The governments’ announcements come at a crucial moment. Investors have started to shift their business to China, and last month a report by the group CBI warned that the United Kingdom was not attractive for investment in renewables. But the recent disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plants and the long-standing urge for clean energies have shifted public opinion in Europe to make way for a new reality. A second green revolution is building as European countries renew their commitment to clean energies as the way forward.

In addition to governments’ willingness to offer support, the cost of clean energy production continues to fall and is expected to decrease dramatically during the next decade. With such favorable conditions the sector has become much more attractive and investors are regaining confidence in renewables. Where to invest is now the question.

If Scotland and Albania manage to take advantage of this new push for renewable energy, they should be able to meet their ambitious goal. A massive expansion in the production of clean electricity and green jobs cannot be guaranteed without the support of private investment. By revealing their plans for 2020 they have put themselves on the frontline and grabbed investors’ attention.

With seemingly ample confidence, the Scottish prime minister points investors to the country’s huge competitive advantage in offshore wind and wave energy capacity. In Albania, the prime minister claimed that not only has Albania optimal natural conditions, but it is also the best country in the world to invest in green energy. Albania has some of the strongest winds in Europe and is one of the sunniest states in the world.

Now that both countries demonstrated confidence in their national capacities, they need to prove that feasible profit is possible. Small nations surely do not look as appealing as Germany or Spain in terms of total revenue, but their strong marketing approach coupled with their outstanding natural resources might be rewarded. Scotland and Albania show they have much to offer and their prospects of winning the battle over investments is strong. While not all investors will dare to finance such small markets, those who do will make the difference, and will determine whether 100% green electricity is feasible by 2020.

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