2010 revenues generated by renewable energy – US$60.2bn in the US

9 Mar 2011

Renewable Energy & the Smart Grid, a report just released by smart-grid experts Zpryme and ICP, says that to optimise smart grid potential in the US, more renewable resources need to be tapped into for electricity generation, with new renewable technology market opportunities abounding.

The report looks at the smart grid spectrum and how it can add intelligence and next-gen capabilities to the energy ecosystem, while it also examines the outlook for the renewable technology market in the US over the coming years, specifically delving into five renewable energy areas: wind, solar, hydro, biomass and geothermal.

“Our view is that the US renewable energy market faces significant structural barriers, but by borrowing best practices from industries such as telecom, there are promising near-term opportunities for utilities that are prepared to take a more market-centric approach to their business,” say the report’s authors, Jason Rodriguez and Mark Gomez of Zpryme and Jon Arnold of ICP Strategies.

With renewable energy projected to increase by 40.4pc between now and 2015 in the US, the report has identified that renewable energy contributed 462bn kilowatt-hours (kWh) of the total 4,030bn kWh generated by all fuel sources that included coal, petroleum, natural gas, nuclear and renewable energy in 2010.

Zpryme and ICP project that 2010 revenues generated by renewable energy will be $60.2bn, which is 16.9pc of the total.

In 2015, the report asserts that projections will grow to US$87.3bn, capturing 21.8pc with a 7.7pc compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for revenues from renewable electricity generation.

Wind – rising star; solar – question mark; hydro power – cash cow

Comparing solar, wind and conventional hydro power to strategic business units (SBU) of a corporation, the report makes the analogy that, right now, solar would be a question mark, wind would a rising star and conventional hydro power would be a cash cow.

“But they are not SBUs, they are separate but related markets for renewable energy in the United States with potentially significant market impacts on the smart grid. To optimise the benefits of the smart grid in the US, more renewable resources need to be tapped for electricity generation.

“Market stakeholders, such as solar and wind-power developers, utilities and IT companies need only to examine and recognise the growing importance of renewable energy generation to seize market opportunities in the short and long term,” say the report’s authors.

Europe v US and the smart grid

Zpryme and ICP point to how grid-tied systems around the US are growing at a faster rate than that of off-grid systems, which they say should provide a market opportunity, even though the US still lags behind Europe in on-grid systems.

Renewable energy market projections

According to the report:

  • The US renewable energy manufacturing, equipment and technology market is projected to reach US$127.5bn in 2010, and to reach US$263.2bn in 2015 with a CAGR of 15.3pc
  • The photovoltaic (PV) market will continue to be dominated by crystalline silicon technology, but thin film and concentrating solar power (CSP) will continue to gain in market share
  • The lion‘s share of wind energy will continue being onshore wind technology, but because offshore wind technology is making huge strides in Europe, this is perhaps spurring more interest among both corporate and government stakeholders in the US.

It says if the federal government offered more generous incentives in the US, there would be a multiplier effect on the renewable energy market, spurring more development of solar and wind, particularly leading-edge technologies, such as offshore wind turbines, thin films, and wave and tidal renewable energy.

Smart renewable technology market outlook

The Renewable Energy & the Smart Grid report forecasts that total value of these technologies across the various types of renewables will grow to US$15.9bn by 2015, with a CAGR of 16.7pc.

It also segments how each renewable energy type will grow during the period. The report also examines how this investment will be spent across the smart grid spectrum – generation, transmission and distribution, etc, both currently and in 2015.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic