Renewables infrastructure trade levels in sharp decline

The UK is expected to experience a major decline in trade levels of renewable and sustainable technologies over the coming years, continuing a downward trend that saw levels drop 65% between 2012 and 2017. At this rate, projections are for a fall of a further 75% by 2023, in turn suggesting that the UK would be increasingly reliant on importing the necessary green infrastructure required to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

This is according to a body of work carried out by Cicero Group using trade flow data provided by Coriolis Technologies.

China far outweighs all other countries in current levels of trade in renewable energy technologies, producing over two and a half times the trade volumes of the next highest country, Malaysia. Vietnam, Chile and Thailand are all expected to post a double-digit CAGR in renewable energy technology trade for the years 2018 to 2023.

Executive director at Cicero Group, Mark Twigg said forging closer ties with emerging economies should now be in focus. “With the trading relationships the UK achieves with the EU and US at the forefront of the Brexit debate, our research suggests that these relationships will do little in helping us achieve our 2050 climate targets," he said. "If the UK government really wishes to ensure that these targets represent a serious ambition, the UK will have to nurture its relationships with these emerging economies, as well as invest and champion their development.

The group’s head of research, Andrew Roberts, added: “Achieving the 2050 goal relies upon a fundamental shift in how we heat our homes, travel to our places of work and operate within these businesses. Any solution will not come through marginal adjustments, but from a wholesale change in our energy, transport, business and residential infrastructure. With less legacy energy infrastructure to hold them back, emerging markets are championing the technology domestically as well as well as internationally. The UK successfully achieving their 2050 goal will rely on strong post-Brexit trading relationships beyond those we hold with the EU and US.”

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