Gaze into clean technology’s crystal ball for 2010

December 1, 2009

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)


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Electric cars take the back seat to smart mobility? I thought electric cars were smart mobility

Posted by Camron Barth | Report as abusive

Well I have two opinions: 1)The future will be based on renewable sources mostly on water power.Right now there are a lot of very interesting projects such as VIVACE,projects based on hydraulics,resonance,vibrations and many others.2)Nuclear and fusion reactors with high efficiency.But it causes many problems like CO2,and recycling of waste products.But after all in next 10 years there will be absolutely new electricity productions.

Posted by Igor | Report as abusive

What really matters is where the energy is coming from, even though so-called “clean” electric car doesn’t prove to be clean if you are burning coal as an energy source.On a contrary I would rather look at the diesel made from municipal waste using non-thermal plasma-based reactor technology. In this sense the energy will come from the renewable source and will be clean by the definition. To me that appeals more as a smart mobility, going to the roots of the problem, rather then deceiving you with another fancy idea of the “clean” electric car.

Posted by Daniil Sakaev | Report as abusive

the only real target of efficiency experts should be getting the earths population under control. given the current rate of growth energy will never catch up with the number of people requiring it, no matter how efficient

Posted by gary bebee | Report as abusive

I think next year will be really interesting for renewable energy developments

Posted by Fred Bloggs | Report as abusive

It is time that government and private industry get together to build a town that is energy self contained to the degree that is financially responsible and incorporates only energy efficient technologies for transportation, etc. We know now how to build such a commercial building but we haven’t achieved such a community.Who, for example, want to be the first in your city to own an electric only car, if the only place you can recharge the battery is at your home? As it is we each can only get little snippets of technology to try at our own risk and that sharply slows adoption of technology. What we need is a community of individual, corporate, entrepreneur, and government risk takers adopting community technology to gain the best price by vote or community accepted demonstration grants.

Posted by Walter L Johnson | Report as abusive

Ohh yes it will be the most exciting for us to watch, how it develops and grows.Don’f forget about hadron collider…Who knows may be we will have absolutely new energy sources.

Posted by Igor | Report as abusive

Viva la Algae-to-oil

Posted by Dangerdeb | Report as abusive

People in 2010 are consumed by the economic turndown and are anxious to see prosperity return. Many may disregard the environmental concerns and foot drag on the new clean technology. I see an alarming number of people still doubtful about the need for green technology. Only when oil and coal become extremely expensive will people switch to something else. It may not be until 2011 that shortages in oil will again raise inflation. Americans are still stuck back in the 20th century in love with more horsepowere in their big cars. I see a very bumpy future for our American society going forward.

Posted by Don Knudson | Report as abusive

What is in the crystal ball?-So called ‘green’ energy which is actually based on pollution (eg. electric cars powered by coal plants.)-‘True green’ energy which can’t meet baseload demand, and provides little energy compared to the costs of generation (eg. solar and wind)-Batteries which simply can’t hold enough charge to replace domestic or industrial power requirements.-Power systems which are useless unless local or within power transfer distance (eg. Tidal and geothermic)-The reality that future fossil fuel shortages will require us to turn to nuclear power, when it is realised that turning to green power will increase power generation costs to the point where the economy collapses.-And a renewable energy industry which is based on keeping the above facts out of public knowledge, least their investment prospects plummet before they figure out how to fix these problems.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

What about nuclear power?

Posted by Camron Barth | Report as abusive

Interesting! I hope the research can focus on mass production process to manufacture solar-powered car cheaply.

Posted by scheng1 | Report as abusive

Nuclear power is very clean. The French get around 70 percent of their power from Nuclear power.

Posted by Camron Barth | Report as abusive

The love affair with vehicles opens a promising path to sharply reducing the need for fossil fuels. This could help reverse Global Warming.Revolutionary new technology will make possible electric cars in which batteries have been superseded. They will need no recharge. Also, hybrid engines – that might need to be fueled with only one gallon of water – for each thousand miles of driving.The article: 5 Steps to Revive the Auto Industry and the Economy on the website: outlines breakthroughs leading to cars and trucks that need no fossil fuel or recharge.Later, more advanced versions will become power plants when parked, wirelessly selling electricity to the local utility.These statements will understandably be greeted with skepticism and disbelief.However, independent laboratory validation of one remarkable breakthrough has taken place at Rowan University. It produced far more heat than can readily be explained by existing science, clearly suggesting a new source of energy is involved. The lead scientist at Rowan is now a Fellow at Cambridge University seeking UK laboratory reproduction. Parallel efforts have begun in Norway. Is it not time for our national laboratories and others to reproduce these experiments?The Rowan validation began the process of proving that new technology can allow a barrel of water to replace 200 barrels of oil!New technologies will let the love affair with vehicles change much of what is currently believed about energy.Let’s accelerate the process!

Posted by Mark Goldes | Report as abusive

Climate-gate, now there is a story for the media, but the MSM ignores the scam, better described as a scandal. Green jobs will not lower the unemployment rate, but passing green legislation, will eliminate many excellent paying blue collar jobs. Amazing, how the media can write stories so often about how we need to go green, and never consider where their electric they are using, is being generated from, or what source of energy is creating that electricity. Liberalism is destroying America!

Posted by Sherlock | Report as abusive

Nuclear is very clean???!!Are you shore man?Right now there’s no storehouses for nuclear waste products!Obama closed the last big project, where we will keep the garbage? In deep layers of the earth,just like scientist decided to keep CO2???Government don’t think abut the future.

Posted by Igor | Report as abusive

[…] Greentech Group is listing marketing as one of its top 10 predictions for the space in 2010.  Question is – are you ready to get out there, or will you be left behind? […]

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