Wind, solar, biofuels to double by 2020, report says

Clean Edge research prediction of high growth for world's leading alternative energies is notable because firm has historically undervalued them.

The global wind, solar, and biofuels industries are poised to double within the next 10 years, according to a report released this week by energy research firm Clean Edge.

Its 22-page report, "Clean Energy Trends 2011" (PDF, registration required), has a string of interesting figures.

Specifically, this latest report valuates the global biofuels industry at $56.4 billion for 2010 and predicts it will grow to $112.8 billion by 2020. It appraises the global wind industry at $60.5 billion for 2010, predicted to grow to $122.9 billion by 2020. Meanwhile, the global solar industry is placed at $71.2 billion for 2010, predicted to grow to $113.6 billion by 2020.

Clean Edge

The report also contains facts reviewing the last decade. In the U.S., for example, there were less than 10,000 hybrid vehicles on the road in 2000 compared with more than 1.4 million hybrid vehicles in 2010. In 2000, the percentage of U.S. Venture Capital spent on clean tech was 1.2 percent, compared to over 23 percent in 2010.

Should anyone pay attention to this tech analyst whose sponsors include companies with ties to the energy industry? Yes and no.

Clean Edge has been tracking data and releasing reports on these and related industries for a decade, and has made some really good predictions. They have fallen short only when you consider that some of the company's prior predictions have erred on the conservative side.

Its 2001 report, for example, predicted major alternative energy industries would grow from $7 billion in 2000 to more than $82 billion by 2010. The market has clearly exceeded that even just adding up Clean Edge's current wind, solar, and biofuels valuations, and not including other industries like geothermal and tidal wave energy.

In its 2003 report, Clean Edge also predicted that wind power would grow to more than $49 billion by 2012, and that's already at $60.5 billion for 2010.

Sponsors of the Clean Energy Trends 2011 report include Autodesk, Cascadia Capital, Deloitte,, executive search firm Hobbs Towne, and the law firms Mintz Levin and Stoel Rives.

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