Reports: Global Clean-Tech, Renewable Energy Markets Expand
A pair of recently released reports indicates robust global growth in both the renewable energy industry and clean-tech equipment, which was defined as components and finished products in renewable energy, energy efficiency and e-mobility markets.
According to a United Nations report, global investment in renewable energy in 2011 reached $257 billion, with solar energy representing more than half of the spending. At $147 billion, solar energy spending grew by 52 percent year-over-year in 2011. This was fueled mostly by demand for photovoltaic (PV) equipment.
However, the U.N. report also indicates that the solar power industry is maturing, highlighting the demise of a slew of manufacturers. It also states that aggressive Chinese manufacturers have eroded market prices for PV modules by 50 percent.
China has grown into a juggernaut in both renewable energy and clean-tech equipment production. The third annual “Clean Economy, Living Planet” report by the WWF shows that the country unseated the European Union last year as the leading maker of clean-tech equipment when measured by sales value, at $71.7 billion. According to the U.N. report, China accounted for one-fifth of global renewable energy spending, at $52 billion. That spending was tops in the world, too, just nudging by U.S. investment of $51 billion.
The U.N. based its report on combined spending in the solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and hydro sectors. Wind power investment reached $84 billion, or 12 percent of all renewable energy spending. The $257 billion total investment for 2011 represents a 17 percent year-over-year rise.
Even though that figure still makes up less than 20 percent of overall global energy volume, dominated by fossil-fuel energy, it compelled U.N. Under-Secretary-General and U.N. Environmental Programme Executive Director Achim Steiner to say that the trends in renewable energy “are real, substantive and transformative.”
Steiner made the remark roughly a week ahead of the Rio+20 summit on sustainable development, which will take place in Rio de Janeiro.
In its report on clean energy technology products, the WWF not only tabulated sales value data on wind, solar, biomass, hydro and geothermal power equipment but crunched numbers on energy-efficiency equipment (fuel cells, LED and CFL lighting, heat pumps, insulation, micro combined heat and power) and e-mobility equipment (electric power trains, batteries, power electronics).
It concluded that overall global sales value of clean-tech equipment grew by 10 percent to almost $251.2 billion. The organization also ranked 40 countries based on their 2011 sales values of clean-tech equipment. It determined that the five fastest-growing equipment manufacturing hubs were Taiwan, China, India, South Korea and the United States.
“The report shows that clean-tech manufacturing is a great business opportunity and an essential element for getting onto a sustainable development path,” noted Jason Anderson, head of climate and energy policy at the WWF European Policy Office.