Clean Energy Goes Global

It should come as little surprise that clean-energy technologies are growing at an impressive rate around the world. In recent years, a combination of factors, including favorable government policies, concerns about climate change, and technological improvements, have helped propel alternative sources to levels of mainstream market penetration their supporting industries have been striving toward for decades.

The market research firm Clean Edge released a study recently that confirms the worldwide trend. Looking at the dollar values of various markets, “Clean Energy Trends 2011” highlights the billion-dollar growth in various clean-energy sectors over the first 10 years of the new millennium and projects a continuing pattern of expansion throughout the next decade. The firm sees the explosion of clean-energy technology as nothing less than revolutionary, likening it to other major transformations (e.g., the growth of personal computers, telephony and the Internet).

According to the report, the global market for solar photovoltaics (PV) expanded from $2.5 billion in 2000 to $71.2 billion in 2010, for a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 39.8 percent. Not far behind, the global market for wind power showed a CAGR of 29.7 percent, expanding from $4.5 billion to more than $60.5 billion in the same time frame.

Clean-energy technologies capped off this decade of massive expansion with a fittingly impressive one year of collective growth. Combined global revenue for solar PV, wind power and biofuels grew by 35.2 percent, from $139.1 billion in 2009 to $188.1 billion in 2010. Most of that growth came from global solar PV installations, which more than doubled over the course of the year.

The sector shows no signs of slowing. Clean Edge projects biofuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel, to double from $56.4 billion in 2010 to $112.8 billion in 2020. It forecasts a similar growth rate for wind power, from $60.5 billion to $122.9 billion over the next 10 years. Solar PV will also continue to play a major role in the expansion of clean-energy technologies, growing from $71.2 billion to $113.6 billion during the course of the decade.

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