In a report issued by Clean Edge, Inc. on March 14th, combined revenue for solar, and wind power, along with biofuels, increased 35.2 percent over the last year, leaping from $139.1 billion to 188.1 billion. And in the ten years since the market research firm specializing in the clean tech sector has been releasing annual industry reports, solar power alone has exceeded founder Ron Pernick’s predictions spectacularly. In 2000, Pernick speculated that solar energy would be a $23.5 billion industry by 2010, and last year the global solar market was $71.2 billion. According to the report, biofuels—the global production and wholesale pricing of ethanol and biodiesel—reached $56.4 billion in 2010 and are expected to grow to $112.8 billion by 2020. And wind power is expected to expand from $60.5 billion in 2010 to $122.9 billion over the next decade.
The report, entitled Clean Energy Trends 2011, is a special anniversary edition that looks at the past 10 years of clean energy trends in the U.S. and abroad. Quoted in a Clean Edge press release, Pernick said, “As witnessed over the past decade, clean teach 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. 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.”
One area that saw a slight decline between 2009 and 2010 was the global market for wind power equipment, with worldwide sales dropping from $63.5 billion in 2009 to $60.5 billion last year. Several U.S. wind farm projects were put on hold as the government debated whether to extend a grant for renewable power developers.
In addition to tracking specific clean-tech market trends, Clean Edge also looked at venture capital investment in the industry, and according to report data, clean-tech’s percentage of total U.S. venture capital investment accounted for a record 23.3 percent of total U.S. venture activity in 2010.
The report also listed five key trends that will affect clean-energy markets in the next few years:
- Incandescent phase-out lights the way for low-cost LEDs
- Natural gas advances as a powerful partner for wind and solar energy
- Cleaner aviation fuels are poised for takeoff
- Low-cost green building brings relief—and sustainability—around the world
- Innovation provides alternatives to rare earths