Renewable Energy Markets to Exceed $220 B by 2016

Internationally, clean energy markets are poised to quadruple in the next decade, growing from $55.4 billion in revenues in 2006 to more than $226.5 billion by 2016 in four key renewable energy sectors, according to a report released this week by the research and publishing firm Clean Edge, Inc.

The “Clean Energy Trends 2007” report highlights a number of factors contributing to this extensive growth, including an influx of venture capital (VC); a new level of commitment by politicians at regional, state and federal levels; and significant corporate investments in clean and renewable energy acquisitions and expansion initiatives. “At $55 billion, the global market for biofuels, solar, wind and fuel cells are now considerably larger than the global recorded music industry,” said Ron Pernick, co-founder of Clean Edge. “Within a decade we predict these clean-energy markets will exceed $220 billion and that the global annual production of biofuels will increase from around 13 billion gallons last year to 50 billion gallons, solar will jump from 2 GW of production to nearly 20 GW, and wind power will increase from 15 GW to 67 GW.” For the second year in a row, the global biofuels market was slightly larger than both solar and wind, reaching $20.5 billion in 2006 and projected to grow to more than $80 billion by 2016. The report projects solar photovoltaics (modules, system components and installations) will grow from a $15.6 billion market in 2006 to $69.3 billion in the next ten years; wind power installations will expand from $17.9 billion in 2006 to $60.8 billion in 2016; and the markets for fuel cells and distributed hydrogen will grow from $1.4 billion in 2006 to $15.6 billion over the next decade. Clean Edge, in collaboration with Nth Power, a leading energy-tech VC firm, also released the firms’ annual energy-tech venture data. This year’s findings show that VC investments in energy-tech start-ups rose 262 percent to $2.4 billion in 2006. These investments, primarily in transportation and fuels, distributed energy, energy intelligence, and power reliability, eclipsed the previous high-water mark set in 2000 for energy-tech investing by more than $1 billion. The figures represent 9.4 percent of total U.S. venture capital investments in 2006. “Energy tech investing in the U.S. now represents nearly ten percent of the total venture activity,” explains Rodrigo Prudencio, partner, Nth Power. “With a growing number of investors actively seeking energy-tech deals, the capital to fund biofuel and solar expansion was readily available. 2007 will clearly be an indicator of whether the aggressive growth in energy-tech investment can be sustained.” In addition, the Clean Energy Trends 2007 report names five key trends that will shape the renewable energy landscape this year: — Carbon finally has a price … and a market — Biorefineries begin to close the loop — Advanced battery makers take charge — Wal-Mart becomes a clean-energy market maker — Utilities get enlightened In his recent CE views article, Clean Energy Markets: Managing High-Tech Growth, Pernick points out that along with the rapid growth of the clean and renewable energy markets also come growing pains. “The cost to install a [megawatt] of wind power increased more than 20 percent over the last couple of years due to higher costs for steel, cement and a general shortage of turbines. Similarly, solar PV costs saw momentary increases in their prices as the high-cost of silicon raised module pricing. And profit margins for ethanol in the U.S. all but collapsed in 2006, as the price of corn nearly doubled in just two years,” he wrote. “But with ramped up manufacturing, increased supply of new feedstocks, growing government support at the regional and federal level, increased investments and the deployment of new technologies — we believe that prices will stabilize and then begin to decrease — much like the high-tech sector before it,” concluded Pernick in the article.
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