Clean Energy a Force for Economic Recovery

The clean-tech sector’s three major bellwethers – biofuels, wind and solar – will power a huge growth curve in clean energy revenue, jobs and capital investment over the next decade, according to a new report from Clean Edge Inc.

“Clean Energy Trends 2010” projects that those benchmark technologies, which totaled $124.8 billion in 2008 and grew 15.8 percent to $144.5 billion in 2009, to grow to $343.4 billion in 2019. That’s growth of almost 138 percent.

The breakdown from Clean Edge goes like this:

  • Biofuels (global production and wholesale pricing of ethanol and biodiesel) reached $44.9 billion in 2009 and are projected to grow to $112.5 billion by 2019. In 2009 the biofuels market consisted of more than 23.6 billion gallons of ethanol and biodiesel production worldwide.
  • Wind power (new installation capital costs) is projected to expand from $63.5 billion in 2009 to $114.5 billion in 2019. Last year’s global wind power installations reached a record 37,500 MW. China, the global leader in new installations for the first time, accounted for more than a third of new installations, or 13,000 MW.
  • Solar photovoltaics (including modules, system components, and installation) will grow from a $36.1 billion industry in 2009 to $116.5 billion by 2019. New installations reached just more than 7 GW worldwide in 2009, a sevenfold increase from five years earlier, when the solar PV market reached the gigawatt milestone for the first time. But because of rapidly declining solar PV prices, industry revenue between 2008 and 2009 declined about 6 percent – from a revised $38.5 billion in 2008 – as solar prices dropped from an average $7 peak-watt-installed in 2008 to $5.12 peak-watt-installed last year.

Global job growth in the solar and wind sectors over the 2009-2019 period will be even more dramatic, the report says, surging to more than 3.3 million from about 831,000 currently.

Clean Edge, with offices in San Francisco and Portland (OR) was founded in 2000 and is a clean-tech research and publishing firm.

The economic devastation of 2008 and 2009 hit venture capital spending hard in all industrial sectors: Initial public offerings in the U.S. were at historic lows, with just 13 venture-backed IPOs in 2009 and that was up only slightly from a meager six venturebacked IPOs in 2008, according to Thomson Reuters and the National Venture Capital Association.

“But signs of hope have begun to emerge for the clean-tech sector,” Clean Edge says. “From Beijing to Seoul, and Washington, D.C. to Brussels, clean energy has become a driving force for economic recovery. Approximately $100 billion of the $787 billion stimulus package in the U.S. will go to clean-tech investments and activities; South Korea’s ‘Green New Deal’ is estimated to commit $84 billion to clean-tech investments by 2013; and China, by some estimates, could end up spending $440 billion to $660 billion toward its clean-energy build out over the next ten years.

“And while total venture activity was down, clean energy’s percent of the total continued to increase, to 12.5 percent of total venture activity in 2009 in the U.S. alone.”

Further evidence, if any is needed, as we brace for the long-term impacts of the Deepwater Horizon disaster that economic and environmental recovery and prosperity will depend on clean energy.

writer, editor, reader and general good (ok mostly good, well sometimes good) guy trying to get by

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