Annual Clean Edge Report Outlines Emerging Clean Tech Trends

Wind power installations continue to grow despite faltering economy

Clean Edge is the world’s first research and publishing firm devoted solely to tracking key developments and trends in the clean tech sector. Since 2000 Clean Edge has published their annual Clean EnergyΒ Trends Report, with their latest 2010 report released last week.

Coming off one of the toughest economic years in recent history, one key trend is the emergence of the clean energy sector as a driving force in the global economic recovery. Given the struggling economy that greeted the start of 2009, expectation was for clean energy growth to remain flat. In fact, the combined revenue for the three major clean energy sectors – solar PV, wind, and biofuels – grew by 11.4 percent globally over 2008, for a total of $139.1 billion.

“Despite severe economics conditions, clean-energy markets were able to hold their momentum in 2009 as many regional and federal governments and private corporations focused on clean-energy investments as a way to pull out of the global economic tailspin,” said Clean Edge co-founder and managing director Ron Pernick. “From the smart grid and energy efficiency to renewable energy generation and advanced battery storage, clean tech continues to be a major driver of regional job growth, economic recovery, and technological competitiveness”.

Key clean technology trends

  • Biofuels – Globally, the biofuel market consisted of more than 23.6 billion gallons of ethanol and biofuel production, reaching $44.9 billion in wholesale pricing for 2009. The market is projected to expand to $112.5 billion by 2019.
  • Wind energy – Global wind power installations produced a record 37,500 megawatts in 2009, with China emerging for the first time as the global leader in new installations, accounting for one-third of new projects producing 13,000 megawatts. New installation capital costs are projected to grow from $63.5 billion in 2009 to $114.5 billion in 2019.
  • Solar PV – Solar PV had a tough year in terms of revenue, falling 20 percent to $30.7 billion in 2009 from $38.5 billion in 2008, principally due to rapid declines in the price of PV cells. Still, new installations pushed global PV solar power production to 6 gigawatts in 2009, a nearly five-fold increase in five years.
  • Venture capital – In hard numbers, venture capital investments declined $1 billion in the U.S., from $3.2 billion to $2.2 billion. Still, investment in clean tech as a percentage of total venture capital expenditures continues to rise, increasing to 12.5 percent of all venture capital activity in 2009, representing the largest share in history for the clean-energy asset class.
  • Jobs – Worldwide, the PV solar and wind energy industries together account for more than 830,000 jobs. Job growth in these sectors will increase to 3.3 million jobs by 2019.

Other emerging trends to watch

The end of climate – with the disappointing outcome of the COP15 climate conference in Copenhagen last year, combined with a continually deadlocked U.S. Congress unable to lead toward effective climate policy, renewable energy advocates look increasingly to economic recovery, national security, and energy sustainability as motivating factors for pushing the clean-energy markets forward.

Carbon as feedstock – even as emissions reductions may falter at the national level, the commoditization of carbon as a feedstock is a trend set to grow in the coming decade. Captured carbon emissions can be bought and sold on the open market for use in industrial processes such as cement and asphalt production, and to grow algae for biofuel production.

China – As noted earlier, China is an emerging powerhouse poised to dominate the clean-energy marketplace. Installing more new wind power in 2009 than any other country, China is closing in on the U.S. for the most cumulative installed wind power. China now leads the world in solar hot water heater manufacturing and installations, and is also the worlds largest manufacturer of PV solar. And China is making aggressive inroads for their future ascendancy in clean tech development. From the report:

“In terms of intellectual capital, China is catching up as well – big time. According to recent Thomson Reuters’ research, China has demonstrated the strongest scientific research growth over the past three decades of any country in the world – and is now second only to the U.S. in terms of the production of scientific knowledge.
But will cheap labor, an artificially low exchange rate, manufacturing knowhow and infrastructure, and government investments and aggressive policies guarantee China clean-energy dominance? It’s possible, but it’s too early to declare China the de facto winner.”

The full report is available for download, along with charts and tables

Clean tech for the home… check out our selection of energy efficient appliances.

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