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10th Annual Clean Energy Trends Report Highlights Steady Growth

<p>The markets for solar, wind and biofuels grew 35 percent in 2010, capping a decade of rapid growth in the industry. The report also offers five trends to look out for in the coming years.</p>

Ten years in technology is a lifetime, and the past decade for clean technology has seen a rebirth and maturing of both the efficiency of technologies as well as the amounts invested in them.

report coverClean Edge, a research and advisory company, published this morning its 10th annual Clean Energy Trends report, an in-depth look at the state of the markets for solar power, wind energy and biofuels. The report also looks at investments in cleantech companies, valuations of IPOs in clean energy and performance of stock indices for the cleantech sector.

The findings show steady growth over the past decade for all three sectors, with wind and solar averaging 30 and 40 percent growth, respsectively, since the first report in 2000. The combined global revenue for solar, wind and biofuels grew 35.2 percent in 2010, up to $188.1 billion from $139.1 billion in 2009.

The chart below, from the report, highlights the changes since 2000 in various indicators tracked by Clean Edge.

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The decade has also shown that original projections, published in Clean Tech: Profits and Potential in April 2001, ended up being conservative. The reports authors write:

When Clean Edge released its growth projections for solar and wind power 10 years ago, many observers, to put it kindly, thought we were being optimistic. We projected that solar power would grow from a global market of $2.5 billion in 2000 to $23.5 billion by 2010 and that wind power would grow from a global market of $4 billion in 2000 to $43.5 billion by 2010. But [...] we were actually quite conservative in our estimates, coming up around 300 percent short in our solar PV estimates and approximately 50 percent short in our wind estimates.

Not every sector is booming, however. For the first time, the global market for wind declined slightly over 2009, both in terms of installations and overall dollars.

"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," Ron Pernick, Clean Edge co-founder and managing director, said in a statement. "We expect overall growth to slow down in some sectors as the clean-energy market reaches wide adoption and utility-scale deployment, but there's still considerable room for expansion."

Other highlights of the report include:

• The global market for solar photovoltaics (PV) has expanded from just $2.5 billion in 2000 to $71.2 billion in 2010, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 39.8 percent. The global market for wind power 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.


• 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 in the prior year.

• Wind power (the capital cost of new installation) 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 gigawatts (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 strong growth with total new installations of more than 16 GW, an increase of 27 percent. The U.S., the world's second-largest market, declined after record growth in 2009, adding only half as much capacity as the prior year with just 5 GW installed in 2010.

• According to data provided by the Cleantech Group, U.S.-based venture capital investments in clean tech increased 46 percent from $3.5 billion in 2009 to $5.1 billion in 2010. Clean Edge analysis found that clean-tech's percentage of total U.S. venture capital investments continued to rise, accounting for a record 23.2 percent of total U.S. venture activity in 2010.

In addition to a recap of recent activity and projections for coming years, the Clean Energy Trends report lays out five trends that will have an impact on clean energy markets for the coming years.

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 full report, Clean Energy Trends 2011, is available for free download from

Windmill photo CC-licensed by Vattenfall.

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