The renewable-energy industry is the part of the energy industry focusing on new and appropriate renewable energy technologies. Investors worldwide have paid greater attention to this emerging industry in recent years. In many cases, this has translated into rapid renewable energy commercialization and considerable industry expansion. The wind power and solar photovoltaics (PV) industries provide good examples of this.
Renewable energy industries expanded during most of 2008, and by August 2008, there were at least 160 publicly traded renewable energy companies with a market capitalization greater than $100 million. An estimated $120 billion was invested in renewable energy globally in 2008.
During 2006/2007, several renewable energy companies went through high profile Initial Public Offerings (IPOs), resulting in market capitalization near or above $1 billion. These corporations included the solar PV companies First Solar (USA), Trina Solar (USA), Centrosolar (Germany), and Renesola (U.K.), wind power company Iberdrola (Spain), and U.S. biofuels producers VeraSun Energy, Aventine, and Pacific Ethanol.
Renewable energy industries expanded during most of 2008, with large increases in manufacturing capacity, diversification of manufacturing locations, and shifts in leadership. By August 2008, there were at least 160 publicly traded renewable energy companies with a market capitalization greater than $100 million. The number of companies in this category has expanded from around 60 in 2005.
Some $150 billion was invested in renewable energy globally in 2009, including new capacity (asset finance and projects) and biofuels refineries. This is more than double the 2006 investment figure of $63 billion. Almost all of the increase was due to greater investment in wind power, solar PV, and biofuels.
In 2000, venture capital (VC) investment in renewable energy was about 1% of total VC investment. In 2007 that figure was closer to 10%, with solar power alone making up about 3% of the entire Venture Capital asset class of ~$33B. More than 60 start-ups have been funded by VCs in the last three years. Venture capital and private equity investments in renewable energy companies increased by 167 percent in 2006, according to investment analysts at New Energy Finance Limited.
New investment into the sector jumped US$148 billion in 2007, up 60 per cent over 2006, noted a report by the Sustainable Energy Finance Initiative (SEFI). Wind energy attracted one-third of the new capital and solar one-fifth. But interest in solar is growing rapidly on the back of major technological advances which saw solar investment increase 254 per cent. The IEA predicts US$20 trillion will be invested into alternative energy projects over the next 22 years.
Vestas is the largest wind turbine manufacturer in the world with a 20% market share in 2008. The company operates plants in Denmark, Germany, India, Italy, Britain, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Australia and China, and employs more than 20,000 people globally. After a sales slump in 2005, Vestas recovered and was voted Top Green Company of 2006.
GE Energy was the world’s second largest wind turbine manufacturer in 2008, with 19% market share. The company has installed over 5,500 wind turbines and 3,600 hydro turbines, and its installed capacity of renewable energy worldwide exceeds 160,000 MW. GE Energy bought out Enron Wind in 2002 and also has nuclear energy operations in its portfolio.
Gamesa, founded in 1976 with headquarters in Vitoria, Spain, was the world’s third largest wind turbine manufacturer in 2008, and it is also a major builder of wind farms. Gamesa’s main markets are within Europe, the US and China.
Other major wind power companies include Siemens, Suzlon, Sinovel and Goldwind.
Although the wind power industry will be impacted by the global financial crisis in 2009 and 2010, a BTM Consult five year forecast up to 2013 projects substantial growth. Over the past five years the average growth in new installations has been 27.6 per cent each year. In the forecast to 2013 the expected average annual growth rate is 15.7 per cent. More than 200 GW of new wind power capacity could come on line before the end of 2013. Wind power market penetration is expected to reach 3.35 per cent by 2013 and 8 per cent by 2018.
Offshore wind power installations are emerging, and recent years have seen several hundred megawatts added annually, mostly in Europe.0
The size of photovoltaic power stations has increased progressively over the last decade with frequent new capacity records. The 97 MW Sarnia Photovoltaic Power Plant went online in 2010. Huanghe Hydropower Golmud Solar Park reached 200 MW in 2012. In August 2012, Agua Caliente Solar Project in Arizona reached 247 MW only to be passed by three larger plants in 2013. In 2014, two plants were tied as largest: Topaz Solar Farm, a PV solar plant at 550 MWAC in central coast area and a second 550-MW plant, the Desert Sunlight Solar Farm located in the far eastern desert region of California. These two plants were superseded by a new world’s largest facility in June 2015 when the 579 MWAC Solar Star project went online in the Antelope Valley region of Los Angeles County, California. In 2016, the largest photovoltaic power station in the world was the 850 MW Longyangxia Dam Solar Park, in Gonghe County, Qinghai, China. Additional larger solar plants, including one over 200,000 MW, have been proposed around the world.
First Solar became the world’s largest solar cell maker in 2009, producing some 1,100 MW of product, with a 13% market share. Suntech was in second place with a production of 595 MW in 2009 and market share of 7%. Sharp Solar was far behind the leader with 580 MW of output. Q-Cells and its 540 MW output was fourth in 2009. Yingli Green Energy, JA Solar Holdings, SunPower, Kyocera, Motech Solar and Gintech rounded out the 2009 Top 10 ranking.
Photovoltaic production has been increasing by an average of some 20 percent each year since 2002, making it the world’s fastest-growing energy technology. At the end of 2009, the cumulative global PV installations surpassed 21,000 megawatts.
According to the China Greentech Report 2009, jointly issued by the PricewaterhouseCoopers and American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai and released on 10 Sept in Dalian, China, the estimated size of China’s green technology market could be between US$500 billion and US$1 trillion annually, or as much as 15 percent of China’s forecasted GDP, in 2013. With the positive drivers from the Chinese government’s policies to develop green technology solution, China has already played a more important role in green technology market development. Following the announcements of the Chinese government in 2009 about the new subsidy scheme of “Golden Sun” to support solar industry development in China, some of the worldwide industry players have announced their development plans in this region, such as the agreement signed by LDK Solar regarding a solar project in Jiangsu province with a total capacity of 500MW, manufacturing facilities of polysilicon ingots and wafers, PV cells and PV modules to be built by Yingli Green Energy in Hainan Province, and the new thin film manufacturing plants of Tianwei Baoding and Anwell Technologies.