EU loses out to China in clean-tech manufacturing stakes

5 Jun 2012

China has taken over from the EU as a leader in the global clean-tech manufacturing stakes, according to the findings of a new report issued by the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) today.

However, the WWF report showed how Denmark and Germany are making clean-tech manufacturing strides, with the two countries taking first and third position globally, when clean tech sales were weighted as a percentage of GDP.

The third annual Clean Economy, Living Planet report ranked 40 countries based on the 2011 sales value of the clean-tech products they manufacture.

The report evaluated the performances of countries in the manufacturing of technologies such as silicon and specialised machinery, solar cells, wind turbines, heat pumps and biofuels.
WWF Clean Tech report 2012

How the EU, the US and China compare in clean-tech sales. Courtesy of WWF’s Clean Economy, Living Planet report

According to the report, the EU fell back to second place behind China, whose clean-tech grew by €13m between 2010 and 2011 to reach €57m. The WWF said sector sales in the US also increased by 17pc in that same timeframe, but they declined in the EU by 5pc in that same timeframe.

Meanwhile, the WWF reported that The Netherlands saw a decline of 14pc in clean-tech sales, while clean-tech sales dropped by 30pc in France and by 9pc in Spain.

It said the financial crisis gripping the EU has monopolised the attention of governments, while also making investors more risk-averse than in previous years.

Based on the report’s findings, the top 5 fastest-growing manufacturing hubs for 2010-11 were:

  • Taiwan (+36pc)
  • China (+29 pc)
  • India (+19pc)
  • South Korea (+19pc)
  • the US (+17pc).

China takes the lead in absolute terms

Absolute Country Ranking
In the absolute clean-tech ranking, China took the lead, with a growth of 29pc per year, said the WWF. Up next was the US, with sales of €37bn, followed by Germany, South Korea, Taiwan and India.

Denmark comes first in relative clean-tech rankings

Relative Clean-Tech Rankings for 2012

The WWF also ranked the economies focus most strongly on clean-tech manufacturing. This ranking measured sales as a proportion of the countries’ total economies. According to the WWF, Denmark remains the global clean-tech leader, while China takes second place, followed by Germany and Brazil.

Clean-tech market surge by 2015

The WWF is predicting that, while growth has slowed, the clean-tech sector will continue to outpace other sectors. By 2015, for instance, it’s predicting that clean tech will be in a position to rival the oil and gas equipment markets. It’s forecasting the market size to be between €240bn and €290bn.

It said global sales have grown by 10pc, with sales volumes shooting up. The WWF said this was an indication that clean energy is getting cheaper, with European manufacturers selling more, but earning less.

“The price drop is good news for consumers, but to keep generating revenue, EU manufacturers have to keep up with the competition. Policy can help by creating stable conditions for investment and innovation,” said Jason Anderson, who heads up climate and energy policy at the WWF’s European policy office.

The report itself is being launched a the European Parliament today.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic