Global economic turmoil and solar company bankruptcies be damned — economies of scale and falling prices are keeping green energy growing. That’s according to research firm Clean Edge, which reported Tuesday that global revenue for solar PV, wind power and biofuels rose 31 percent to reach $246 billion in 2011.
Clean Edge put the global solar market at $91.6 billion in 2011, up from $71.2 billion in 2010. That outpaced wind power’s growth to $71.5 billion in 2011, up from $60.5 billion in the previous year. The global biofuel market grew to $83 billion in 2011, up from $56.4 billion in 2010, though that was largely due to a big increase in biofuel prices, Clean Edge reported.
In solar power, on the other hand, costs of solar panels fell by more than 40 percent last year, while installations grew by 69 percent, yielding a 29-percent increase in solar market revenues last year, Clean Edge reported.
2011’s green energy market growth came alongside an increase in investment in the clean energy sector, which rose 5 percent from 2010 to a record $260 billion last year, Bloomberg New Energy Finance reported in January.
In that total, solar energy investment jumped 36 percent to $136.6 billion to take the lead over wind power for a second year, driven by solar panel prices that fell by about 50 percent last year and made projects more attractive to investors.
Of course, we’re all familiar with the downside to the solar industry price wars, largely driven by Chinese companies, in the form of the collapse of companies that couldn’t compete and a looming solar trade war between China and the United States.