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Clean Edge has just released their Clean Energy Trends 2008 report, a 22-page document that outlines the areas of cleantech that saw the most growth in 2007 as well as the hurdles ahead in 2008. Our buddy and author of the report, Joel Makower, singles out the extension of the production tax credit as the most important thing the U.S. government can do to help cleantech.
The report highlights the five cleantech sectors it considers the most promising, and profiles one company in each.
We love “best of” lists, so here are Clean Edge’s top picks.
- Startup Electric Vehicle Companies Rev Up: Clean Edge doesn’t see the future of vehicles in the hands of the established and lumbering automakers. Instead, nimble EV startups like Tesla Motors and Fisker Automotive are outmaneuvering the auto giants, beating them to the market with next-generation vehicles.
Clean Edge’s pick is India-based REVA, which claims to have the world’s best-selling on-road EV. Poised to expand in the European market, Reva could also start selling more cars at home as Indian consumer buying power grows.
- Sustainable Cities Make Green Skylines: Half of the world’s population lives in cities, making urban sustainability a serious concern. The world’s largest test case will be Masdar City, born out of oil-rich Abu Dhabi. Aiming to be the world’s first zero-carbon, zero-waste, car-free city, Masdar City already has $22 billion in investments.
Englewood, Colo.-based CH2M Hill is overseeing the first phase of Masdar City’s development.
- Foreign Firms Power U.S. Wind Boom: As the U.S. wind market booms, foreign turbine makers are cashing in. Half of the installed turbines in the U.S. are from foreign firms, primarily Denmark, Germany, Spain, China and India. The weak dollar has spurred foreign wind companies to gobble up American wind companies, fueling significant consolidation of the sector over the past year.
Spain-based Iberdrola Renewables was an obvious pick for this category as it’s the world’s largest wind power producer. Iberdrola has 2,145 MW of wind power capacity installed in the U.S., with plans for an additional 22,000 MW.
- Geothermal Getting Hot Again: Geothermal has less downtime than coal and nuclear power plants, making it one of the most reliable utility-scale renewable energy sources out there. The Geothermal Energy Association estimates there are 86 geothermal projects underway that, once completed, will more than double the current geothermal capacity in the U.S.. The sector has even gotten the attention of search giant Google, who is investing in deep “enhanced geothermal.”
Clean Edge singled out Reno, Nev.-based geothermal veteran Ormat Technologies. With over four decades of experience, Ormat’s technology is used in more plants around the world than that of any other company. Ormat is also working with the Department of Energy to test the first commercial enhanced geothermal deep-drilling technology.
- Ocean Shipping Cleans Up: The trillion-dollar shipping industry is responsible for 4.5 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, double that of the aviation industry, the UN estimates. Burning extremely dirty “bunker fuel” leads cargo ships to belch out huge amounts of nitrogen and sulfur emissions. But ports are cracking down on in-dock engine idling, and a number of companies are designing shore-side power systems to keep cargo ships’ electrical systems running without burning fuel.
On the open seas, three companies — Kite for Sail, Kiteship, and Sky Sails — are designing large kites to improve fuel efficiency. Clean Edge singled out Hamburg, Germany-based Sky Sails, who claims their kites can lower a ship’s fuel cost by as much as 35 percent. Sky Sails has already deployed several kites and has orders for more.