Advanced Energy is Bigger Than Ever, with Nowhere to Go but Up

Posted by Bob Keough on Mar 10, 2016 11:47:28 AM


The annual Advanced Energy Now Market Report is out, and the results are in: The advanced energy industry is bigger than ever – bigger than the airline and fashion industries globally, bigger than beer and pharmaceutical manufacturing domestically. But the story doesn’t end there. Looking at the past five years of revenue, it becomes clear that the trajectory of advanced energy goes in one direction: up.

2016-aen-mr-cover-1-832261-edited.pngAdvanced Energy Now 2016 Market Report is Advanced Energy Economy’s fourth annual accounting of advanced energy size and growth in the U.S. and worldwide, prepared by Navigant Research. This year’s edition includes annual revenue data, from 2011 to 2015. It is the most comprehensive assessment of advanced energy markets to date.

However, the results in Advanced Energy Now 2016 Market Report do not represent a full assessment of advanced energy market size. That’s because many specific categories still do not have revenue data publicly available. In addition, Navigant has utilized strict definitions within product categories, to distinguish advanced energy from conventional energy products. For these reasons, the estimate of advanced energy market size presented in this report should be considered quite conservative. But now, with five years of revenue data, the 2016 Market Report also reveals some clear trends about advanced energy growth.

Advanced Energy is Big – and Growing: At $1.4 trillion, advanced energy captured double the revenue of the airline industry, exceeded fashion and apparel, and is close to media and entertainment worldwide. The industry grew 8.2% in 2015, three times the rate of the global economy.

If advanced energy were a country, it would be equal to Mexico in GDP.

In the U.S., advanced energy brought in revenue of $200 billion in 2015 – bigger than pharmaceutical manufacturing, double revenue from  beer sales, and close on the heels of the wholesale market for consumer electronics. Growth was 1%, substantially lower than in 2014 (14%), mostly a function of lower revenue from biofuels. Ethanol closely tracks oil in price, and low oil prices all year resulted in a 33% drop in revenue, even though ethanol production increased slightly. Not counting ethanol, U.S. advanced energy revenue grew 10% in 2015 – four times the growth of U.S. GDP.

If the advanced energy industry were a state, it would be nearly equal to Oregon in economic activity.

Solar Booms: Solar PV has been a standout growth story over the past five years. Revenue is up 21% over 2014, reaching $21.6 billion, in the U.S., and nearly three times 2011 revenue of $8.2 billion. Once considered the most costly renewable energy technology – lots of potential, but at a high price – solar has taken off in this country, for utility deployment and rooftop installation both, because the numbers work.

Wind Bounces Back: In the U.S., wind energy revenue has been on a roller coaster the past five years, due to uncertainty over the federal production tax credit (PTC). Peaking in 2012 ($25.5 billion), as projects were rushed to completion before expiration of the PTC, and crashing in 2013, as few new projects could reach completion after the PTC was belatedly extended, wind has been climbing back steadily – up 75% last year, to $14.4 billion. The project pipeline is full, and with PTC extended for five years, with a scheduled phase-down, the wind industry finally has tax certainty to plan on.

Building Efficiency is Big, with Steady Growth: The largest segment of U.S. advanced energy revenue for the past two years, Building Efficiency has been a steady growth story – up 11% last year, 50% since 2011. Saving energy – and money – for customers is a solid value proposition, and new technologies that deliver on convenience, comfort, and cost are making efficiency even more attractive to property and facility owners.

Storage is a Game Changer: It has long been considered the holy grail, with the potential to liberate the electric power system of the tyranny of generation at the precise moment of consumption. But it is no longer a hopeless quest: Energy storage is real, starting with ancillary services like frequency regulation, and ramping up to balancing intermittent renewable energy generation, and ultimately displacing peaking plants for meeting top levels of demand. The evidence: 12X growth in 2015, to $734 million in the U.S. It will be up from there.   

Electric Vehicles are on the Move: Revenue from sales of hybrid vehicles, as an incremental improvement on conventional gasoline-powered cars, have suffered from lower gasoline prices. Less so for plug-in electric cars, which offer a true break from petroleum power. Electric Vehicle revenue grew 3% in 2015 to nearly $5 billion, reaching nearly half of revenue from the more-established hybrid line of vehicles, and up seven-fold over 2011.

Numbers are important, but they don’t tell the whole story. The 2016 Market Report contains 18 stories on trends that explain advanced energy’s recent growth and look toward the future, highlighting emerging technologies that will take the stage when the whole world runs on energy that’s secure, clean, and affordable. Check them out in the Market Report, or follow them, week by week, as they are serialized on AEE’s blog, Advanced Energy Perspectives.

Download the report

Topics: Advanced Energy Now Market Report