Gaze into clean technology’s crystal ball for 2010
Clean technology investors who have suffered through 2009 can find cheer in a new report by the Cleantech Group that gives its top ten predictions for 2010.
The number one prediction: Private capital growth will recover, the research group said.
The group believes that the amount of money from global venture capital and private equity in clean technology in 2010 will surpass that in 2009 “by a healthy margin” and could be a record year. The group also is watching for major investments like Khosla Ventures’ raising $1 billion for renewable energy and clean technology funds, more capital in Asia and innovative fund strategies.
Here are the group’s other predictions for 2010:
2. Clean economies become the new space race. There will be changes in which countries and cities are driving global momentum, but greater protectionism surrounding the industry will be a drawback.
3. Electric cars take the back seat to smart mobility. The trend will influence city designs, shipping ports and governments’ tax incentives and budgets.
4. Resource constraints beyond carbon rise to the fore. As the global economy picks up, there could be price spikes that impact clean technology sectors, pushing companies to use resources more efficiently in order to maintain or boost their profitability.
5. Commodity trade-off debates intensify, in particular in the areas of water and energy; land and energy; land and water and carbon and water. The group predicts that more environmentalists will object to wind and solar projects because of how they use up swaths of land and other reasons, slowing down projects’ progress.
6. Energy efficiency eclipses solar. Information and communication technology, along with more policy support, will help create a boom in energy efficiency. The sector could outshine solar, so far a clean tech darling of investors.
7. Marketing suddenly matters. The group predicts that companies will have to distinguish themselves and employ branding as clean technology goes mainstream. Marketing campaigns are likely to target more consumers instead of just businesses.
8. Buffett leads the super rich into cleantech. The group points out how U.S. billionaire investor Warren Buffett has made plays in clean tech-related companies, including GE, Goldman Sachs and Chinese electric car battery maker BYD Co Ltd. The group argues that energy efficiency factors partly influenced Buffett’s acquisition of the nation’s largest rail company Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. (That, of course, is up for debate. Some saw Buffett’s move on the rail company as a bet on coal.)
9. Acquisitions and consolidations accelerate. The group predicts a “bloodbath” in countries with overcapacity like Germany and China and that many Chinese wind and solar companies will be gone by the end of 2010. That will happen, the group argues, even as China’s market for renewable energy grows and despite the government’s investments in high profile companies like solarpanel makers Suntech and Yingli. The group’s prediction echoes a forecast for consolidation that BP Solar’s chief executive gave Reuters.
10. The rise of waste-to-energy, geothermal and aquaculture, as part of a shift to more sustainable agriculture and food production.
We want to know how readers think clean technology and renewable energy will evolve in 2010. Do you think these predictions on the money or off base or perhaps somewhere in between? Do you see other trends forming in your crystal ball?
(Photo credit: Reuters/Lee Jae Won)