Current Trends in Clean Technology Investments

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No doubt about it, clean technology is growing, not only due to government and internationally set renewable energy targets such as the 2020, Kyoto, etc… but also because it’s simply something that we need to implement in order not to completely botch up this little planet of ours.

However, as with anything there are current trends in the sector, and it’s sub specializations. Today we look at the current trends in clean-tech and talk a little about what is currently hot and where is the outlook.

Solar

The solar sector is currently seeing a price war, with the average currently at approximately $1.50/watt, and most manufacturing coming out of China, western companies are having difficulties competing on price. However, company’s such as US’s BioSolar and Brazil’s Heliotek are currently developing organic solar panels that if they work should bring the price down to $0.50/watt.

The future in solar is predominantly on two fronts, 1. Lower prices per watts generated, and 2. higher efficiency in generating power from captured solar energy.

In terms of investments if a company can have a distinct competitive advantage in either of the two, investment will follow, additionally, there is opportunity for solar farms in the SEE area, predominantly the Balkan region and Bulgaria, however outside of the EU, socio-political risk may still be a factor as well as corruption.

Energy Accumulation / Fuel Cells / Batteries

Energy Accumulation at the moment is primarily focused on the automobile industry, this is specifically as there are more hybrids, and electric cars entering the market, and their fundamental weak point is the length of charge, time to full recharge, and mileage.

This is why we’re seeing companies such as Holland’s Epyon focusing on ultra fast charging, US’s Bloom Energy which is claiming to make high efficiency fuel cells moving the industry forward. There is still a lot of room for growth in the sector and energy accumulation will undoubtedly move away from automotive and into home, building, and corporate use over the years. Investment into Energy Accumulation technologies is slated to grow.

Waste to Energy

One of the biggest problems, and therefore opportunities in the market today is municipal solid waste. Within this sector you’ve got the following major trends, biomass/biogas processing storage and use, recycling – sorting organic and inorganic waste. Additionally, waste generation in Asia at the moment is spiraling out of control, and this now, as in the future is the market for waste management technologies.

Current technologies in the sector exist – however they are not efficient, in one case something around 50% of municipal solid waste was being recycled, and this was a market leader, a new company had devised technology to augment this to 85-90%. Quite the difference in efficiency.

Wind

The first thing to remember is that cost/kw h is still high when it comes to Wind though has been coming down. Due to these costs decreasing you’re starting to see a lot of new players entering the field, typically, larger companies that have traditionally not been part of the Wind Energy generation industry, these are companies such as GE, Siemens, United Technologies, and these big guys are not developing in house.

Typically, they’re buying into the market. This is good news, as we’ll undoubtedly see more wind farms popping up in the future, and that is also where the majority of new investment will fall. Wind farms. Coastal regions as well as mountain regions in the EU, but also globally will see a large increase in wind power generation, and there is definite investment opportunity there.

Additionally, in the area of efficiency, if a company can create a more efficient turbine, grab more energy from wind, etc… they will undoubtedly be a target for large scale investment.

Though we must still remember, investment in clean tech is a long term process that can take 5-10-15 years to develop a product from idea to market.

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