Report: U.S. risks losing cleantech edge

China continues to lead the global clean energy technology manufacturing race, while the U.S. ranks second, according to a new report commissioned by World Wildlife Fund.

The third edition of Clean Economy, Living Planet was released at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) conference in Atlanta. The report ranks 25 countries based on the 2011 sales of the clean energy technology products they manufacture.

The report says that in terms of total sales value of clean energy technology, China had the largest market, followed by the United States and Germany. Though the US ranks second to China in total sales, relative to the size of its economy the U.S. is well behind leading countries including Denmark, China, Germany and Brazil.

“Other countries are moving on clean technology opportunities and making big investments in the industry, while U.S. policymakers in Washington seem to be content to let all the recent growth in the United States wither on the vine by not providing policy certainty and not going after growth opportunities,” said Marty Spitzer, Director of U.S. Climate Policy for WWF.

“In 2011, the value of cleantech manufacturing almost doubled over 2008, reaching 198 bn euros. While the period between 2008 and 2010 saw growth of 31% per year, the sector is maturing, and growth became more stable at 10% in 2011. This is still well above global GDP growth,” the report states.

Overall, the report found that in 2011, the global sales value of the clean technology sector increased by 10% to almost 200 billion euros (approximately $248.8 bn). However in comparison to 2010, the 2011 growth of that sales value is much more unevenly distributed across countries.

While sales from manufacturers in many countries in Asia and the Americas continued to increase, European manufactures have kept their sales stable or have even seen a decline in sales.

By 2015, the clean tech sector is expected to rival the oil and gas equipment market, when the forecasted market size will be between 20 and 290 bn euros, the report states.

Other highlights of the report find that:

  • U.S. total clean technology manufacturing sales increased 17% from 2010 to 2011, a pace that has slowed from recent years (28% from 2008-2010).

 

  • The top five fastest growing markets for 2010-11 were Taiwan (+36%), China (+29%), India (+19%), South Korea (+19%) and the United States (+17%).

 

  • The U.S. has the largest global market share in bioethanol (61%), largely because of strong federal incentives and a renewable fuels standard. In solar PV, US production rose 16%, capturing 16% of the global market.

 

  • The U.S. has a strong market share in wind technology, but is still in fourth place with an 11% market share (a slight increase over last year’s 9%), behind China, Germany and Denmark, who together have more than 60% of the global market. Despite a growth of 30% in U.S. demand for wind turbines, wind turbine manufacturing in the United States grew by only 17% in 2011.

 

  • The U.S. is a strong player in the global clean energy technology race, but compared to other leading countries, the U.S. is currently under-investing in clean technology and there is a great deal of policy uncertainty, meaning it will likely lose market share in the long term.