Renewable Energy Trends to Watch in 2003

RE Outlook 2003 – In looking at the results of a study recently completed on the renewable energy industry in Massachusetts, it is clear that the clean energy sector is growing significantly. Where then are we expecting further growth in the Commonwealth and what trends are likely to drive that growth?

RE Outlook 2003 – January 29, 2003 – In looking at the results of a study recently completed on the renewable energy industry in Massachusetts, it is clear that the clean energy sector is growing significantly. Where then are we expecting further growth in the Commonwealth and what trends are likely to drive that growth? While the following are just a few of the opportunities we think will be emerging trends in renewable energy in Massachusetts in 2003, I believe they will emerge as national trends as well. Community Wind Cities and towns in Massachusetts are seriously considering developing new wind facilities. One of the ironies of the Cape Wind project is that it has built great awareness – even among Cape Wind opponents – of the need for renewable energy. As a result, there is an outpouring of interest in cities and towns, particularly on Cape Cod, which would like to pursue 2-10 wind turbine projects in their communities. Similarly, the success of the 660 KW Hull wind turbine has generated interest in surrounding communities and in Boston, with the strong possibility of locating wind turbines on a number of the Boston Harbor islands and in quite a number of coastal towns. This interest is prompting the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust to assemble a Community Wind Program which it expects to unveil this Spring, assisting towns and cities with the site selection, development process and permitting of small to medium sized wind farms. While siting will continue to be a problem in developing wind facilities, I anticipate that the success of Hull and other relatively small windfarms in New England will help us gather momentum in developing new projects. Green Infrastructure Constructing state-of-the-art green schools, buildings and housing is a fast growing trend with developers, architects, contractors and designers looking to distinguish themselves in the market. This trend presents substantial new opportunities for manufacturers and installers of solar photovoltaic modules, solar hot water heaters, geothermal heat pumps, small wind applications, daylight harvesting products, passive solar installations, biomass applications and other renewable energy products as many of these innovations are incorporated into green structures. The Trust is encouraged with the early results of our Green Building/Green School programs, and we expect the penetration of green infrastructure to grow significantly in 2003 and beyond. Industry Growth Renewable energy is a megatrend which will increasingly spawn a growing clean energy industry not only in 2003 but in the coming decades. Even now, companies are unveiling breakthroughs in renewable energy technologies, in spite of the economic downturn. The increase in community and larger-scale wind farms; solar, biomass and fuel cell installations; green building infrastructure; software and electronic support for renewable energy; and many other innovations will spawn and grow clean energy companies. A small but growing group of clean energy funds, state funds and the federal government are supporting the growth of these companies. It is often a difficult market, and unfortunately many companies will not be successful, but with demand rising and the need for renewable energy increasingly evident, the clean energy industry is clearly growing. I am optimistic about the prospects for continued growth of the renewable energy sector. With the dual drivers of energy and climate change concerns, and the increasing support of the public, the private sector and government, we are well positioned to make substantial progress in 2003 and in coming years. About the Author: Robert L. Pratt is the director of Massachusett’s US$150 million Renewable Energy Trust, administered by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. He was formerly the Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and founder of Energia Global International, Ltd., one of the leading renewable energy companies in Latin America. He can be reached at robpratt@masstech.org

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