Lower prices for many cleantech goods and services, combined with a renewed focus on scalable projects, resulted in record deployment of wind, solar and biofuel projects last year, according to a new report from research firm Clean Edge.
Despite this continued expansion, however, combined global revenue for wind, solar PV and biofuels expanded just 1%, from $246.1 billion in 2011 to $248.7 billion in 2012. This marginal growth was one of the many consequences of rapidly declining solar PV prices, the report notes.
New installation capital costs for wind power grew from $71.5 billion in 2011 to $73.8 billion in 2012, according to Clean Edge's data. The firm predicts that by 2022, new installation capital costs for wind power will reach $124.7 billion.
The report also points out that falling prices for cleantech goods and services are helping wind and solar power reach cost parity in both utility-scale and distributed markets. However, several barriers inhibit wind energy and solar power from reaching their full potential, including political attacks on clean energy in the U.S. and ongoing economic struggles in Europe.
Meanwhile, U.S.-based venture-capital (VC) investment in cleantech dropped for the first time in three years, from $6.6 billion in 2011 to $5.0 billion in 2012, Clean Edge says. However, the decline in U.S. cleantech VC investment mirrored a downward trend for total U.S. VC investment, so cleantech still represented nearly one-fifth of all U.S. VC activity last year.
The full Clean Edge report can be downloaded here.