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Renewable Energy Snapshot

February 1, 2011
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According to BCC Research, the value of the global market for renewable energy was nearly $225 billion in 2010 and is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.1% to $331 billion by 2015. The largest segment of the market, wind energy, is projected to increase at a CAGR of 6% to $87 billion in 2015, after being valued at an estimated $65 billion in 2010. The solar energy segment is expected to see the highest rate of growth over the next five years, with a CAGR of 17.1%, rising from an estimated $44 billion in value in 2010 to $97 billion by 2015.

Wind Energy

Wind could meet 12% of global power demand by 2020 and up to 22% by 2030, according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and Greenpeace International. The Global Wind Energy Outlook 2010 finds that wind power could play a key role in satisfying the world’s increasing power demand while simultaneously achieving major greenhouse gas emissions reductions.

The 1,000 GW of wind power capacity projected to be installed by 2020 would save as much as 1.5 billion tons of CO2 every year. These reductions would represent 50-75% of the cumulative emissions reductions that industrialized countries committed to in their 2020 Copenhagen pledges. By 2030, a total of 34 billion tons of CO2 would be saved by 2,300 GW of wind power capacity.

“Wind power can make a massive contribution to global electricity production and to decarbonizing the power sector, but we need political commitment to make this happen,” said Steve Sawyer, secretary general of the GWEC. “Wind power technology provides governments with a viable option for truly tackling the challenges of our time and for being part of the energy revolution our planet needs.”

In addition to environmental benefits, wind energy is becoming a substantial factor in economic development, providing more than 600,000 “green collar” jobs today both in direct and indirect employment. By 2030, the number of jobs is projected to increase to over 3 million.

“In 2010, the 600,000 workers of the wind industry put up a new wind turbine every 30 minutes-one in three of those turbines was erected in China,” said Sven Teske, senior energy expert with Greenpeace International. “By 2030, the market could be three times bigger than today, leading to a €202 billion (~ $280.9 billion) investment. A new turbine every seven minutes-that’s our goal.”

According to a report from Research and Markets, high initial costs and the huge structure of large wind turbines have given rise to the less costly small wind turbine market. Small wind turbines, which have a power rating of 100 KW or less, are lightweight, allowing them to function with light wind. In addition, they can be mounted on rooftops like television antennae and they produce little noise. The most commonly used technology for these turbines is the horizontal axis wind turbine, but other technologies like loopwing turbines are also available.

In previous years, small wind turbines were used to generate power to charge batteries; now, technical developments have allowed these turbines to be used to power homes and businesses. Government support and awareness for renewable energy will likely help the market for small wind turbines to grow rapidly.

Technological advances have allowed wind turbine blades to become lighter and smaller, yet more efficient. Similarly, the rotor speeds have been slowed down to decrease noise, and vibration isolators have been introduced. Self-protecting technologies that help the wind turbine to protect itself in case of high wind speeds, along with active pitch controls to capture energy at these high speeds, have been introduced. In addition, some small wind turbines feature wireless connectivity, allowing owners to control the turbine dynamics from a distant location.

Solar Energy

The solar energy industry experienced the proverbial “perfect storm” of market-changing events in 2009 that redefined the rules of the game, according to Pike Research, thereby altering the competitive landscape as well. Starting in late 2008, the solar market shifted from supply-constricted to demand-driven within a few quarters, due to the plunging price of crystalline silicon cells and modules spurred by falling polysilicon cost, constrained availability of credit, Spain’s dramatic demand decline, and the growth of thin film supply and market share.

“The solar market is now faced with a gross oversupply of modules,” said Dave Cavanaugh, senior analyst. “The industry is currently supplied by more than 190 cell and module manufacturers, making consolidation of weaker competitors an inevitable outcome.”

A few of Pike Research’s other key forecasts and findings about the new solar market include:
  • Worldwide solar demand, driven by lower costs and greater availability of credit, was anticipated to increase to 10.1 gigawatts (GW) in 2010, a year-over-year increase of almost 43%.
  • Solar market demand will exceed 19 GW by 2013, a 25% CAGR from 2010; this growth will be driven by demand from the U.S., Italy, and China, in addition to steady demand from Germany and demand growth in a number of smaller countries.
  • Excess module supply could easily reach 8.3 GW in 2010, even accounting for reasonable usage rates and moderate capacity growth.
As a global superpower, the U.S. represents a fast-growing and potentially strong photovoltaic (PV) industry, according to a report from Research and Markets. Increasing budget expenditures on crude oil, gas and coal; high grid installation and expansion costs; and increasing carbon emissions have triggered PV industry growth in the U.S. over the past few years. The total PV and concentrating solar power (CSP) capacities surpassed 2 GW in 2009, with a significant increase in industry revenue.

According to the report, the U.S. government continued its support and substantially increased the solar energy technology budget. Out of the total $271 million in solar energy investments, 182 solar projects had received Treasury grants of $81 million (as of early February 2010). With the help of notable government efforts and active participation of venture capitalists, the industry was expected to add around 0.87 GW of annual PV installations in 2010.

The non-residential segment has shown the highest growth potential. In 2010, the impact of federal stimulus funds reached full effect, and installations suddenly rebounded with easy credit facilities and various state government tax-incentive programs. Another trend seen in the non-residential segment was the usage of power purchase agreements (PPAs). Various companies have now begun signing PPAs to make these installations more profitable and viable for the long term.



For additional details, visit www.bccresearch.com, www.gwec.net, www.researchandmarkets.com and www.pikeresearch.com.

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