Clean technologies include products and technologies designed to be economically competitive by using less material and energy to reduce their environmental impact compared with incumbent technologies. “The Future of Clean Technologies” report published by IntertechPira takes an in-depth look at the future of clean technologies with quantitative market forecasts to 2019 broken down by product, technology and end-use sector. It details prospects for raw material and technology suppliers and identifies the key materials, products, technologies and end-use sectors most likely to undergo significant growth over the next ten years.
The report covers the global market for clean technology devices and materials. Global is defined as including western Europe, eastern Europe, North America, Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and parts of Africa, principally South Africa. The report finds that growth rates in clean technologies “greatly outperform those aimed at the traditional power generation industry”. According to IntertechPira, the pace of growth, and the promise it may hold, has a lot to do with the high-profile involvement of governments and private investors in many of the sectors.
Clean-tech still seen as expensive
Clean technology investments are still seen as astronomically costly by many venture capital firms, who tend to become nervous when faced with capital-intensive industrial segments. As such, most are making smaller sums available for small R&D teams to work with, rather than releasing larger sums, more appropriate for project finance-type capital investments. The emphasis seems to be very much upon supporting ventures headed by people with operational experience and technical expertise.
Biofuels market to triple, wind to quadruple
Despite this reticence by investors, by 2019 the global biofuels market, for example, is expected to more than triple from estimated 2009 bases of 15 billion gallons of ethanol and 3 billion gallons of biodiesel production.
Globally, wind power generation more than quadrupled between 2000 and 2008 – something IntertechPira expects to happen again by 2019 – but it will remain a small part of total energy use.
Solar photovoltaics installations are anticipated to reach 8 GW globally by 2019. Solar power is not yet as widely used as hydro power, though this may change over the medium term, for hydro-based power is limited by the finite nature of suitable dam sites, as well as political restrictions on available supplies of water.
Fuel cell and hydrogen expected to increase 10 fold
The fuel cell and distributed hydrogen market are anticipated these to grow from an estimated $2 billion industry in 2009 (primarily for research contracts and demonstration and test units) to more than $20 billion by 2019.
Plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles, currently part of the 5% of alternative vehicles registered in North America, could capture up to 20% of the automotive market by 2030. The speed of adoption will depend on cost and customer experience – particularly how close the experience is to driving a petrol-powered vehicle
IntertechPira expects the wind-based segment to show the fastest growth the forecast period. In large part, this is due to robust expansion in China and the gathering view that wind is on course, with prices becoming more competitive as the sector greatly expands in size, to be perhaps the most viable alternative energy sector.
The four categories measured in the lighting segment (solid state, LED-based, energy efficient and daylighting) are each forecast to show impressive growth – each above the industry average – led by the daylighting and solid-state lighting (15%) sectors. Growth in the latter, along with LED-based lighting, would be even faster were it not for the still high costs associated with the technology and the continued struggle to develop a sufficiently soft, ‘comfortable’ light for the residential market to rival that achieved by traditional incandescent light bulbs.
The study forecasts the value of selected opportunities for raw material and technology suppliers in the clean technology industry to 2019. In sales-value terms, the biggest opportunities are expected in water filtration materials, power grid transmission lines, controls and sensors for smart grids, and wind turbine systems, annual demand for each should be in the order of $16–18 billion by 2019.
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