Bioenergy, Geothermal, Hydropower, Solar

Survey Finds Cleantech Investors Look to Solar, Ethanol and Hybrids

Among renewable energy sources, solar power is viewed as likely to contribute most to the world’s primary energy supplies by 2020, according to a survey of venture capitalists and other financial investors conducted at the Cleantech Forum XII in San Francisco last month by Jefferies & Company.

Among renewable energy sources, solar was selected by 40% of respondents, followed by wind (33%), hydropower (22%) and geothermal (5%). “Given that hydropower represents a much greater percentage of global energy supplies today than does solar, the survey results imply robust growth forecasts for solar energy among conference participants,” said Jeffrey Bencik, Vice President and Equity Research Analyst at Jefferies providing coverage of clean technology companies. “To surpass hydro by 2020, solar would need to grow faster than 30% per year, and that assumes hydro-generated power remains flat. While wind is expected to grow quickly as well, solar remains the more attractive investment because of the higher growth rate, better profit margins and, at least in the US, a wide range of investment options, including both traditional manufacturing and potentially game-changing technologies,” he added. In addition, 75% percent of attendees surveyed believe President Bush’s target for the U.S. to consume 35 billion gallons of ethanol and other alternative transportation fuels by 2017 — up from 5 billion today — is attainable. “With more than 800 venture capitalists and other investors in attendance, the strong turnout to this year’s Cleantech Forum is a testament to the growing investor interest in clean technology and alternative energy,” said Jeff Lipton, Managing Director of CleanTech Investment Banking at Jefferies. “Over the past three years, this sector has achieved critical mass, allowing investors to dedicate and commit resources to understand and follow the related industries.”