2007 big for cleaner energy

2007 big for cleaner energy

Despite a swarm of economic problems and rising fossil fuel costs, last year was a banner year for clean energy, according to an outlook report by Clean Edge, a research and publishing firm.

According to Clean Edge’s report, biofuels (global production and wholesale pricing of ethanol and biodiesel) reached $25.4 billion in 2007 and are projected to grow to $81.1 billion by 2017.

In 2007, Clean Edge said the global biofuels market consisted of more than 13 billion gallons of ethanol and 2 billion gallons of biodiesel production world- wide.

According to the Nebraska Ethanol Board, there are currently 21 ethanol production plants in Nebraska, producing over 1.3 billion gallons of ethanol each year and requiring nearly 500 million bushels of grain in the process.

These ethanol plants, the Nebraska Ethanol Board said, represent more than $1.4 billion in capital investment in the state and provide direct employment for about 1,000 Nebraskans.

Nebraska ranks second nationally in ethanol production and is the largest ethanol producer west of the Missouri River.

Clean Edge, which has been tracking the growth of clean-energy markets since 2000, reports a 40 percent increase in revenue growth for solar photovoltaics, wind, biofuels, and fuel cells in 2007, up from $55 billion in 2006 to $77.3 billion in 2007.

For the first time, Clean Edge reports, three of these now generate revenue in excess of $20 billion each. Wind now exceeds $30 billion.

New global investments in energy technologies including venture capital, project finance, public markets and research and development have expanded by 60 percent from $92.6 billion in 2006 to $148.4 billion in 2007, according to research firm New Energy Finance.

What Clean Edge has found is that clean energy technology is becoming more mainstream.

“A growing number of governments announced plans to generate electricity from renewables,” the Clean Edge report said. “Corporations continued to jump on, if not lead, the race to transition to a cleaner, greener economy.”

Venture capitalists in the U.S. invested $2.7 billion in the clean-energy sector, representing more than 9 percent of total venture capitalist activity.

According to Clean Edge research:

* Wind power (new installation capital costs) is projected to expand from $30.1 billion in 2007 to $83.4 billion in 2017. Last year’s global wind power installations reached a record 20,000 MW, equivalent to 20 large-size 1 GW conventional power plants.

* Solar photovoltaics (including modules, system components, and installation) will grow from a $20.3 billion industry in 2007 to $74 billion by 2017. Annual installations were just shy of 3 GW worldwide, up nearly 500 percent from just four years earlier.

* The fuel cell and distributed hydrogen market will grow from a $1.5 billion industry (primarily for research contracts and demonstration and test units) to $16 billion over the next decade.

Along with biofuels, Clean Edge said these four benchmark technologies which equaled $55.4 billion in 2006 and expanded 40 percent to $77.3 billion in 2007 will grow to $254.5 billion within a decade.

U.S.-based venture capital investments in energy technologies more than quadrupled from $599 million in 2000 to $2.7 billion in 2007, according to New Energy Finance (with supporting data from Clean Edge and Nth Power).

As a percent of total venture capital investments, energy tech increased from 0.6 percent in 2000 to 9.1 percent in 2007. Between 2006 and 2007, venture investments in the U.S. clean-energy sector increased by more than 70 percent, New Energy Finance noted.


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