Renewable energy is still principally viewed through an environmental rather than a business prism.
Yet, the global renewable electricity market is an enormous business opportunity for America today and getting bigger. Just consider the stunning numbers that are included in a recent International Energy Agency study.
Solar generation is zooming from 70,000 megawatts to 230,000 megawatts globally by 2017. Wind will jump from 230,000 megawatts to 460,000 megawatts again by 2017.
All renewable generation by 2017--hydro, biomass, geothermal, solar, and wind--will be generating 1.5 times current US electricity production. That is remarkably large, as the US economy remains more than 20% of world GDP.
All the foregoing big numbers are in the International Energy Agency's look at the trends for renewable energy generation around the world over the short and medium term or from 2011 to 2017. http://www.iea.org/Textbase/npsum/MTrenew2012SUM.pdf.
During the period, the IEA sees US solar capacity increasing another 21,000 megawatts and wind rising 27,000 megawatts. Those are major increases and represent more than $100 billion of investment.
But in comparison to China, the large US investments will be modest. The IEA projects China will add 104,000 megawatts of wind and 32,000 megawatts of solar.
Hydro that now provides16% of the world's electricity and 80% of global renewable generation will see its share of the renewable energy pie drop to 70%, as a result of the rapid, large increases in wind and solar generation.
From 2011 to 2017, the global growth rate of non-hydro renewables will be 14.3%. Total renewable electricity will grow 5.8% per year or by 40% by 2017.
These incredible numbers explain why GE, Airproducts, PPG are some of the big Pennsylvania corporate names that are building revenues from supplying the US and global renewable energy markets.