“Advanced energy” is an over trillion-dollar market, and actually grew in 2012

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Credit: Ucilia Wang

Both the cleantech sector and groups fighting climate change have suffered a major branding and marketing problem in recent years. Is “advanced energy” the hot term to use going forward? That’s what the non-profit the Advanced Energy Economy Institute (AEEI) are pushing and on Tuesday morning announced, via a report created by Pike Research, that the advanced energy sector is already an over $1 trillion sector, and it is estimated to have grown 19 percent in 2012.

That growth last year is in sharp contrast to the recent numbers that came out around cleantech in 2012. According to the Cleantech Group venture capitalists invested $6.46 billion globally into cleantech startups, which was down 33 percent from the $9.61 billion that VCs invested into cleantech startups in 2011 (see more in our GigaOM Pro research note).

It’s all in how you categorize it. So what is the advanced energy market? It includes all kinds of next-generation energy technologies, from more efficient transportation technology, to synthetic diesel and gasoline, to gas turbines to more efficient land use. “Advanced energy” technologies make energy consumption and generation “more secure, clean, and affordable,” but they don’t exclude some lower emission fossil fuel sources like natural gas. Coal seems to be the only thing left off the list.

Slicing it that way, Pike Research and AEEI say that the advanced energy market was a $1.1 trillion market globally in 2011, making it larger than the pharmaceutical manufacturing globally, or the international trucking sector. And with its growth in 2012, the U.S. now sees revenue of $157 billion from the advanced energy sector.

The group sums it up like:

With global energy consumption projected to rise nearly 40 percent by 2030, future prosperity depends on meeting this growing demand with energy that is secure, clean and affordable. Just as the Internet economy transformed society in unexpected ways, the advanced energy economy has the potential to create dramatic new opportunities for economic growth in the U.S. and around the world.

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Shelley Pelech

If only coal is left off the list, it would seem that ‘cleantech’ is petroleum with propellers. And “more efficient land use” sounds ominous. Fracking is considered an efficient way to keep North America foreign-oil free, but middle-easterning the continent seems the road to ruin of our water, woodland and wildlife.

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