China Widens Lead in Renewable Energy Ranking by Ernst & Young

China widened its lead over the U.S. as the most attractive country for renewable energy projects, following its “greenest” five-year plan to date, Ernst & Young LLP said.

China’s score out of 100 increased to 72 from 71 last quarter, while the U.S. remained in second place at 67 points in the consultant’s quarterly Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index released today in an e-mailed statement. India drew ahead of Germany to claim third spot.

“This is principally due to China diversifying its renewables portfolio through an increased focus on offshore wind and concentrated solar power,” Ernst & Young said in the report. The group also cited new targets for renewable energy set in March in China’s 12th five-year plan.

China took a lead in the wind and solar industries in recent years, and last year, the government’s China Development Bank Corp. agreed to lend 232 billion yuan ($35.7 billion) to Chinese renewable companies. The UN’s top climate change diplomat, Christiana Figueres, in January said China will leave “all of us in the dust” because of their commitment to win the “green economy race.”

China in March published a five-year plan that included targets to raise the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to 11.4 percent, cut the energy used per dollar of economic output by 16 percent, and the carbon emitted per dollar by 17 percent.

Ernst & Young assessed criteria including regulations, planning barriers and access to capital, land and the electricity grid. China took the lead last August for the first time since the ranking started in 2003.

The March 11 tsunami that triggered a nuclear disaster in Japan has also added impetus to renewables, and particularly solar power in the past quarter, according to the report. Both China and Japan have said they’ll build more solar power plants in the wake of the disaster.

“The events in Japan will help move solar out of a niche technology corner and into the mainstream of power generation technologies,” Ernst & Young Energy and Environmental Infrastructure Leader Ben Warren said in the statement.