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Clean Energy Trends 2012 Report Released


Clean Edge’s 11th annual Clean Energy Trends report was just released for 2012. It’s one of the best, if not the best, annual report on cleantech markets that I’m aware of. Below are some of the key findings from this year’s report.

What Will 2011 Be Remembered for (Cleantech-Wise)?

Clean Edge writes that what will be remembered and perhaps what made the biggest mark on cleantech in 2011 was the Solyndra bankruptcy and resulting investigations, political soundbites, and media coverage. Probably. However, Clean Edge also notes that criticisms of cleantech that came out of that weren’t based on accurate information (as we’ve written many, many times now).

Some key points Clean Edge says were missing from those critic’s arguments:

  • The oil, gas, and coal industries still receive massive subsidies
  • Venture capital is a risky, high-reward business critical to U.S. innovation
  • Nuclear power projects require considerably more in loan guarantees than renewables
  • 2011 marked a number of developments that point to the significant scale up of clean tech

2011 Growth & Projected 10-Year Growth

In 2011, the three cleantech markets Clean Edge focuses on — solar power, wind power, and biofuels — grew from $188.1 billion (2010) to $246.1 billion (2011).

Over the coming 10 years, it projects these industries will grow to $385.8 billion.

U.S.-based venture capital investments increased from $5.1 billion (2010) to $6.6 billion in cleantech industries in 2011 (30%). That was nearly the best year yet for these industries, growth-wise. That was slightly less than the $6.9 billion invested in 2008. However, relative to other industries, cleantech received its most VC investment ever in 2011 (23.1% of activity).

Biofuels, Wind Power, and Solar Power

How did each of the big three — solar, wind, and biofuels — do, and what’s projected for the coming years? Here are Clean Edge’s summaries for those (and some of that info is in the chart above):

  • Biofuels (global production and wholesale pricing of ethanol and biodiesel) reached $83 billion in 2011, up from $56.4 billion the prior year, and are projected to grow to $139 billion by 2021. However, this increase was mostly due to an increase in ethanol and biodiesel prices. The continuing trend of rising biofuel prices, up 10 to 20 percent in 2011, is the result of higher costs for feedstock commodities – mainly sugar for ethanol and rapeseed and other vegetable oils for biodiesel. Between 2010 and 2011, global biofuels sales remained relatively flat, expanding from 27.2 billion gallons to 27.9 billion gallons of ethanol and biodiesel production worldwide.
  • Wind power (new installation capital costs) is projected to expand from $71.5 billion in 2011, up from $60.5 billion the prior year, to $116.3 billion in 2021. Last year’s global wind power installations equaled 41.6 gigawatts, the largest year for global installations on record. China remained the global leader in new installations for the fourth year in a row, installing more than 40 percent of all global wind turbines, or 18 GW in total. The European Union came in second with nearly 10 GW, followed by the U.S., India, and Canada with approximately 7 GW, 3 GW, and 1.3 GW respectively.
  • Solar photovoltaics (including modules, system components, and installation) increased from $71.2 billion in 2010 to a record $91.6 billion in 2011. We project the market to continue to expand to $130.5 billion by 2021. These market numbers, while impressive, do not fully capture the extent of actual industry expansion. While total market revenues were up 29 percent, installations climbed more than 69 percent from 15.6 GW in 2010 to more than 26 GW worldwide last year. This reflects a more than 40 percent decline in crystalline module prices between 2010 and 2011. Between now and 2021 we project that installed costs for PV will continue to decline, falling to nearly one-third of their current levels.

Also worth noting are solar PV price trends and projected trends:

5 Key Trends to Impact Clean Energy Markets

Clean Edge also identified 5 key trends that it thinks will greatly affect clean energy markets in the coming years. Those are

  1. The Military Leading Clean-Energy Deployment
  2. Japan Moving to a Clean-Energy, Post-Nuclear Future
  3. Deep Commercial Building Retrofits that Will Provide Companies with Major Efficiency Savings
  4. Increasing Attention on and Investment in Waste-to-Resource & Waste-to-Resource Breakthroughs
  5. New Energy Storage Solutions Improving the Grid and Assisting Rapid Clean-Energy Deployment

#4 surprised me a little. But I think it would be great if Clean Edge is right. We’ll see.

For more, check out the full Clean Energy Trends 2012 report.

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Written By

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.


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