The Japanese nuclear reactor disaster at Fukushima could speed up the push among nuclear firms to diversify into renewables, according to Pricewaterhouse Coopers.
In a report out yesterday looking at merger and acquisition activity in the renewables market during 2010, PwC says that activity by US and French nuclear power generators into wind and solar are part of a wider move for the nuclear sector to extend its reach in renewables.
PwC’s director of director renewables and cleantech, Ronan O’Regan, said: “Many of these moves by nuclear companies are driven by diversification. The reaction to the Japanese nuclear situation has been to take stock. While it won’t raise a red flag to investment in nuclear, it could in the short term spur further moves by nuclear companies into renewables.”
The consultancy found that last year there were 181 merger and acquisition deals worth $13bn done in the US renewables industry, as many as were done in the whole of Europe.
And this, says PwC, is evidence that America is no longer playing catch-up with Europe on green energy, but could soon outpace it.
The US market dominated growth in the energy efficiency market in 2010, reflecting both the potential for energy savings per capita, and renewed regulatory interest, such as new US building codes aimed at delivering a 30% energy saving in new builds.
Mr O’Regan, said: “The growth in energy efficiency deals is not surprising, particularly in North America, because when you’re trying to reduce emissions, it’s where the quick wins can be found. There’s increasing consumer awareness around managing energy usage which, when supported with appropriate regulations, is creating an attractive market for energy efficiency service providers. This, combined with government stimulus packages, should see the US become a dominant player in the renewables deal market over the next few years.”
He added that the recent $100-plus price for oil and events at Fukushima “should provide some support to valuations and act as a timely reminder to governments that a shift to a low carbon economy is not only about its environmental commitment, but also about security of supply.”