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Clean Energy Trends 2011

Clean Energy Trends 2011

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This year’s report represents a full decade of Clean Edge data and trends analysis. Ten years ago, Clean Edge released Clean Tech: Profits and Potential, the firm’s first publication. This year’s special anniversary edition looks at the past 10 years of clean-energy activity in the U.S. and abroad.

The report also outlines five key trends that will impact clean-energy markets in the coming years:

  1. Incandescent Phase-Out Lights the Way for Low-Cost LEDs
  2. Natural Gas Advances as a Powerful Partner for Wind and Solar Energy
  3. Cleaner Aviation Fuels are Poised for Takeoff
  4. Low-Cost Green Building Brings Relief – and Sustainability – Around the World
  5. Innovation Provides Alternatives to Rare Earths

The following is an excerpt from Clean Energy Trends 2011. To read the full report, please open the PDF file by clicking on the “Download” links

As witnessed over the past decade, clean tech has proven to be a significant business opportunity, and its growth rates now rival that of earlier technology revolutions like telephony, computers, and the Internet. According to Clean Edge research, the global market for solar photovoltaics (PV) has expanded from just $2.5 billion in 2000 to $71.2 billion in 2010, for example, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 39.8 percent. The global market for wind power, which like solar PV we have tracked every year for the past decade, has similarly expanded from a global market worth $4.5 billion in 2000 to more than $60.5 billion today, for a CAGR of 29.7 percent. And these growth rates are not limited to solar and wind. Other clean-tech sectors, such as hybrid electric vehicles, green buildings, and smart grid, have seen similarly spectacular growth rates. 

This overall trend for clean-tech markets continued to be one of growth and expansion in 2010. Combined global revenue for solar PV, wind power, and biofuels surged by 35.2 percent over the prior year, growing from $139.1 billion to $188.1 billion. The bulk of this expansion came from a more than doubling in global solar PV installations. For the first time since we began tracking the wind sector, however, we witnessed a slight year-over-year decline in market size.

According to our research:

  • Biofuels (global production and wholesale pricing of ethanol and biodiesel) reached $56.4 billion in 2010 and are projected to grow to $112.8 billion by 2020. In 2010, the biofuels market consisted of more than 27.2 billion gallons of ethanol and biodiesel production worldwide, up from 23.6 billion gallons the prior year.
  • Wind power (new installation capital costs) is projected to expand from $60.5 billion in 2010 to $122.9 billion in 2020. Last year’s global wind power installations declined slightly to 35.2 GW, down from a record 37.5 GW the prior year. China, the global leader in new installations for the third year in a row, continued to see an increase with total installations of more than 16 GW. The U.S. continued to see significant declines in the face of a tight project finance market, uncertainty around project grants until late in 2010, and the lack of a federal RPS, among other challenges, adding only half as much capacity as the prior year with just 5 GW installed in 2010. Against this backdrop, China surpassed the U.S. for the title of global leader in total cumulative installs for wind power, with a capacity of more than 42 GW.
  • Solar photovoltaics (including modules, system components, and installation) are projected to grow from a $71.2 billion industry in 2010 to $113.6 billion by 2020. New installations reached more than 15.6 GW worldwide in 2010, a more than doubling from 7.1 GW in 2009. The level of growth and expansion in solar PV was a direct result of PV prices dropping by more than 30 percent in 2009 followed by an additional 10 percent drop in 2010.

Together, we project these three benchmark technologies, which totaled $139.1 billion in 2009 and grew 35.2 percent to $188.1 billion in 2010, to grow to $349.2 billion in the next decade.

U.S. Clean-Tech Venture Investments

In 2010, U.S.-based venture capital investments in clean technologies increased from $3.5 billion in 2009 to $5.1 billion in 2010, an increase of 45.7 percent, according to data provided by the Cleantech Group.

While falling short of 2008’s record-breaking $6.1 billion total, 2010’s more than $5 billion represented nearly a quarter of all VC activity in the country last year, a new record. In addition, the more than 370 deals in 2010 represents the largest number of financings recorded in a one-year period. Of the 10 largest clean-tech venture deals in 2010, five were for solar, two were for EVs, two were for bio-based materials, and one was for geothermal.  

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