Ireland has ranked 14th in the latest Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index (RECAI) published by EY.

The index examines the attractiveness of 40 markets, to those investing in renewable energy activity and projects.

A key call-out from the report is that climate change and renewables must stay at the top of the global agenda if the low-carbon transition is to be accelerated as we navigate the pandemic.

Commenting on Ireland's position in the Index, Anthony Rourke, EY Ireland Government and Infrastructure Advisory Director, said that since 2017 Ireland has jumped from a ranking of 40 to now being within the top 15 markets on the Index.

"Huge progress has been made over that time with new policy underlining the growing importance of renewable energy development in Ireland.

"This has gone some way in boosting confidence in Ireland’s sustainability and enabling investment across a more diverse range of technologies," he said.

Mr Rourke said that Ireland is on a new path to meet the 2050 net-zero emissions targets via a set of five-year economy-wide carbon budgets.

"This together with the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2020 is indicative of Ireland's recent efforts to create a clear and reliable framework for decarbonization that provides strong signals for investment in renewables," he said.

The United States holds its place at the top of the latest RECAI, with significant support from Covid-19 stimulus packages designated to renewable energy projects and a commitment pending to re-join the Paris Climate Agreement.

The US regained the number one position in 2020 for the first time since 2016.

Despite the pandemic, the Chinese solar sector remains buoyant and continues to remain in the second spot on the index.

Australia has reached its highest position on the index in the history of the RECAI, reaching number three for the first time.

This is largely due to developers and investors driving growth in Australia’s renewables sector, while the country has ambitious green energy export plans.

Rounding out the top five markets on the index are India and the United Kingdom at fourth and fifth position respectively.

The report has also called out technological advancements, such as hydrogen and artificial intelligence (AI), as having a critical role to play to reach net zero in a post-Covid-19 world.