As energy-focused investors search for opportunities brimming with potential, the growth in renewables – albeit from a small base – along with other cleantech solutions cannot be ignored. The Clean Energy Trends 2014 report issued today by clean-tech research and advisory firm Clean Edge details opportunities and challenges clean energy companies currently face. Sectors like solar PV are growing rapidly, but policy and finance hurdles must be navigated in several business areas, not least of which includes solar, with net metering near the top of the list in the US.
“The adoption of clean energy is set against a bigger-picture context that finds many of the world’s largest energy-using nations struggling with critical choices for their energy future,” said Ron Pernick, Clean Edge co-founder and managing director. “Climate disruptions, smog alerts, planned and unplanned nuclear power shutdowns, and resource scarcity are all driving significant change, accelerating the double-digit adoption growth of solar PV, hybrid and electric vehicles, green buildings, and other clean-tech solutions.”
This year’s report spotlights 5 key trends that will affect clean-energy markets in the coming years. Some of these trends are probably on your radar, while others might be relatively new concepts:
- Enlightened Utilities Begin To Embrace Distributed Energy Assets – “The U.S. utility trade group Edison Electric Institute, in a widely cited 2013 report called Disruptive Challenges, warned of a “death spiral” where utilities add fixed charges to make up for lost revenue from DG, incentivizing even more customers to generate their own power.”
- Cities Lead Climate Charge by Focusing on Regional Carbon Reduction – “With little progress on meaningful global climate pacts and often frustratingly slow action at the national level, the world’s cities are increasingly taking center stage in the fight to reduce carbon emissions. And for good reason.”
- Net Zero Energy Buildings Gain Ground – “In 2006, the Cascadia Green Building Council in the Pacific Northwest launched the Living Building Challenge, creating a formal goal for worldwide architects and designers to create structures that generate as much or more energy than they consume, along with other sustainability attributes.”
- Internet-Enabled Clean-Tech Startups Define a New Sector – “In our 2012 book Clean Tech Nation, Clean Edge managing director Ron Pernick and senior editor Clint Wilder named Connectivity as one of the “Six C’s” driving clean tech forward (along with Costs, Capital, Competition, Consumers, and Climate). Now, clean-tech business models enabled by Internet, wireless, and cloud-based technologies are growing rapidly, creating the emerging and increasingly well-funded industry sector known as cleanweb.”
- Vertical Farming Sprouts in Cities Around the World – “The earth’s population is projected to reach 9 billion by mid-century, and its people will need 69 percent more calories in 2050 than they did in 2006, according to an analysis of United Nations data by non-profit environmental group World Resources Institute. To meet this demand, the world needs higher crop yields of more calorically-dense, nutritious food…So agricultural researchers are working to produce more calories with less land, energy and water, ideally closer to the urban centers where population growth is most prevalent.”