UK Lags as a Cleantech Region
Cleantech spending is on the rise, but the United Kingdom could be losing out on the cleantech revolution.
When you think of cleantech leaders, the United States and China are the first countries that come to mind. For innovators in the United Kingdom, this is cause for concern – particularly considering the global cleantech market’s significant projected growth. An expected $1.9 trillion will be spent on low carbon, energy efficiency and other technologies by 2030. The UK risks losing out on this massive market if cleantech investment continues to lag.
A new study by six leading development and environment organizations has warned that this might absolutely be the case. The study is making a big splash among the region’s cleantech leaders, who are voicing their concerns over the UK’s slipping position. Adam Bruce, former chairman of UK Offshore Wind Programme Board and global head of corporate affairs at Mainstream Renewable Power, stated that “this report shows clearly that the UK is in danger of losing its leading position in the global race to build a vibrant low carbon economy.”
The UK’s powerful history of cleantech innovation
Up until this point, the UK has typically been included in the handful of regions leading the way when it comes it cleantech. Indeed, the Daily Mail reports that £6.7 billion of the £40 billion trade deals with China were in the low carbon sector last year, while £3.2 billion out the £10 billion in deals made with India in 2015 covered cleantech as well.
This strong global infrastructure for cleantech investment might have suggested that the UK would go on to become one of 2016’s cleantech heavy hitters. However, the opposite is true, as domestic investment has slowed and is redirected into areas such as onshore renewables, carbon capture and storage and building insulation. Furthermore, it looks as though this trend is set to continue. Many of the major projects in the UK’s infrastructure pipeline deal with high carbon projects, like fossil fuel power stations and airports.
Hope for the region
However, it wouldn’t be wise to write off the region just yet. Although its focus appears to be shifting away from cleantech, there is still a strong commitment within the green community to see the UK live up to its full potential as a cleantech powerhouse. However, in order to do so, significant steps must be taken. Essentially:
- The government needs to express increased support for the cleantech industry domestically
- The government must support the global market, encouraging exports and international deals
- The UK needs to continue to commit to clear goals concerning the environment and carbon emissions.
If these governmental steps are taken, it’s entirely possible that UK investment in cleantech will once again be on the rise. After all, we’ve seen a similar renewed enthusiasm for cleantech in the US after the the renewal of the Investment Tax Credit. All told, there are steps to be taken to ensure that the UK maintains its prominent position within the cleantech landscape. And, the way the market is looking, the region will be amply rewarded for a reinvigorated investment in cleantechnology. There is growth to be seen and it stands to reason that the UK will wish to continue riding the cleantech wave.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Morag McGreevey, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.