The leading role of renewable energy

The renewable energy market is one of the very few that was not affected by the economic downturn, and certainly the market that registered – at a global level – the most significant economic growth over the past 10 years.

Growth rates have been extraordinary in the first phase of greatest development – several sectors grew twofold each year – and are currently still very high.

The findings are contained in the report Clean Energy Trends 2011, published by the research firm Clean Edgfe Inc, which notes that the growth has exceeded a third in 2010. Specifically, global revenue for wind power, solar energy photovoltaic,  and concentrating solar power (CSP) have increased by 35.2%, reaching $188 billion (compared to 139 billion in 2009). Within this data, the photovoltaic grew twofold, while for the first time wind turbines dropped slightly.

Over the past decade the fastest growth was registered by photovoltaics, with an average annual rate of 39.9% (from $ 2.5 billion in 2000 to 71.2 billion in 2010), even higher than the significant increase of wind energy (+29.7%), which ascended from $4.5 billion in 2000 to 60.5 billion.

For the next decade, the report predicts that, even if the growth rate will slow down, there will still be a strong renewable development. Specifically, the biofuel market is expected to rise to $112.8 billion in 2020 (against 56.4 in 2010), wind farm to 122.9 billion, while the growth of solar energy photovoltaics will be more modest, reaching $113.6 billion. 

Wind power (new installation capital costs) is projected to expand from $60.5 billion in 2010 to $122.9 billion in 2020. Last year’s global wind farm installations declined slightly to 35.2 GW, down from a record 37.5 GW the prior year. China, the global leader in new wind turbines installations for the third year in a row, continued to see an increase with total installations of more than 16 GW. The U.S. continued to see significant declines in the face of a tight project finance market, uncertainty around wind farm project grants until late in 2010, and the lack of a federal RPS, among other challenges, adding only half as much capacity as the prior year with just 5 GW installed in 2010. Against this backdrop, China surpassed the U.S. for the title of global leader in total cumulative installs for wind power, with a capacity of more than 42 GW.

Solar power photovoltaics (including modules, system components, and installation) are projected to grow from a $71.2 billion industry in 2010 to $113.6 billion by 2020. New installations reached more than 15.6 GW worldwide in 2010, a more than doubling from 7.1 GW in 2009. The level of growth and expansion in solar energy was a direct result of photovoltaic prices dropping by more than 30 percent in 2009 followed by an additional 10 percent drop in 2010.