As concerns mount over nuclear power safety in the aftermath of Japan’s massive earthquake, a new report says other energy sources not derived from fossil fuels are expanding and will likely double market share within a decade.
Global revenue for solar photovoltaics (PV), wind power and biofuels jumped 35% last year, compared with 2009, growing from $139.1 billion to $188.1 billion, according to the 10th annual report Monday by Clean Edge Inc., a U.S.-based research and advisory firm. Most of this growth was due to a doubling in solar PV installations and steady growth in the biofuels sector. For the first time in a decade, however, the wind market showed a slight decline.
The global market for solar PV skyrocketed from $2.5 billion in 2000 to $71.2 billion in 2010 and that for wind power surged from $4.5 billion in 2000 to more than $60.5 billion today, the report says.
“As witnessed over the past decade, clean tech has proven to be a significant business opportunity, and its growth rates now rival that of earlier technology revolutions like telephony, computers, and the Internet,” said Ron Pernick, Clean Edge co-founder and managing director.
Equipment makers for solar and wind energy climbed as much as 32 percent, rallying for a second day on speculation that clean energy will benefit in the aftermath of Japan‘s nuclear-reactor accident.
In Germany, the world’s largest solar-panel market, photovoltaic panel producer Solarworld AG (SWV) jumped 22 percent as of 3:59 local time after trading 32 percent higher. Rival Q- Cells AG gained 13 percent. Among wind turbine companies, Nordex SE (NDX1) rose 18 percent and in the U.S. Broadwind Energy Inc. (BWEN) jumped 20 percent.
Germany will halt nuclear reactors accounting for 25 percent of its atomic energy capacity as part of a safety review after explosions at reactors in Japan, Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters in Berlin today. The government will use the three-month moratorium on the extension of the life of German nuclear plants announced yesterday to review whether the country can speed up installations of renewable energy.
“The nuclear catastrophe in Japan has changed the value of nuclear for good — and inversely that of all alternatives, the best of which being hydro,” Ing Becker, an analyst at Kepler in Frankfurt, wrote in a note to customers yesterday.
Solaria Energia y Medio Ambiente SA (SLR), a Madrid-based developer of solar farms and maker of photovoltaic panels, jumped 14 percent.
In Austria, Verbund AG (VER) rose the most since May 2009 in intraday trading, up 9.5 percent in Vienna. Austria’s biggest utility gets about 90 percent of its domestic output from hydropower. It had the biggest increase in the 29-member Bloomberg European Utilities Index, which fell 2 percent.
California, which is seeking to build a regional carbon market for the U.S. West and parts of Canada, may start its cap-and-trade program next year even if other jurisdictions aren’t ready, a state official said.
“We could do the program on our own, but we’d rather not,” California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols told reporters today after speaking at an International Emissions Trading Association conference in Washington.
The air resources board last year identified New Mexico and Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia in Canada as governments that may be ready to join a regional carbon market in 2012. California approved its cap-and-trade regulations in December.
California’s planned carbon market is similar to the cap- and-trade program that President Barack Obama failed to push through Congress last year. Power plants, oil refineries and factories would buy and sell pollution allowances that each represent one metric ton of carbon dioxide. The supply of allowances would be trimmed over time to enforce a 15 percent cut in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases linked to global warming by 2020.
A lawsuit by an environmental group won’t stop the program from starting next year, Nichols said. The Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment is among advocacy organizations that are suing the Air Resources Board to force reconsideration of its greenhouse-gas regulations. The board’s climate-change rules don’t satisfy a requirement in the state’s 2006 global-warming law to clean up poor, polluted neighborhoods, the groups said.
An ongoing fight in Congress to limit EPA’s role in regulating greenhouse gases is obscuring the importance of these long-overdue rules to public health
This week the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to release new standards for coal- and oil-fired power plants that will limit the emissions of 84 different “air toxics,” including mercury, benzene, hydrogen chloride and radioactive material.
According to EPA, American coal plants produce 386,000 tons of hazardous air pollutants per year. The toxins they release “” hazardous chemicals that can lead to disease, brain damage and premature death “” affect every part of the human body. Arsenic, chromium and nickel cause cancer; lead damages the nervous system; acid gases irritate the nose and throat; dioxins affect the reproductive endocrine and immune systems; and volatile organic compounds weaken lungs and eyes.
Congress amended the Clean Air Act in 1990 to control industrial emissions of hazardous air pollutants, but coal-fired power plants were exempt until 2000. More than ten years later, the standards will finally be released for public comment and finalized in November.
The European Union may need to tighten the supply of permits in its emissions-trading system to avoid a price slump if planned energy-efficiency measures curb demand for pollution rights.
“If we are serious about our energy-efficiency targets, then this would almost take the value of emissions allowances down to zero,” Pierre Dechamps, adviser for energy, climate change and environment at the EU regulator, said today at a conference in London. “Unless we introduce more stringent measures or tighten the market, we are in a situation where there will be a drastic decline in prices,” Dechamps said.
The EU’s emissions trading system, known as the ETS, is the cornerstone of Europe’s plan to reduce greenhouse gases blamed for climate change. It imposes pollution limits on more than 11,000 utilities and manufacturing companies and sets a 2020 cap on discharges that would be 20 percent below 1990 levels.
The European Commission, the EU regulator, said last week it planned to oblige governments and businesses to make energy efficiency a higher priority to help the bloc exceed its 20 percent reduction goal and boost the security of supplies. The commission proposed slashing carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent by 2050.