What are the leading energy technologies for 2014? Antenna Group has identified these top sectors to watch via dialogue with their clients, and analysts, media and other industry influencers. Antenna Group, a Beckerman company, represents companies across sectors including renewable energy, energy efficiency, alternative fuels, energy storage, finance, waste management and water, and is the nation’s largest energy technology communications firm.
You’ll notice that solar leads the list – and rightfully so with the record-breaking year the sector has enjoyed. “Without a doubt, 2013 will go down as a record-shattering year for the U.S. solar industry,” said Rhone Resch, CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, as he announced results for the third quarter (Q3), per GreenBiz.com.
Residential solar showed the strongest growth, and largest increase ever with 186 MW installed, which is a 43% addition in installations in Q3 2013 over Q3 2012. New massive utility-scale solar plants also greatly added to solar capacity generating a 20% increase in Q3 over previous quarter, and a 35% increase over Q3 the previous year.
Other important clean technology innovations abound: importantly new recycling technologies are turning refuse into new products, and efficiency technology is maximizing existing resources.
And now (drumroll) the top 10 energy technology headline grabbers for 2014 from the Antenna Group:
1. Soaring solar securitization. Solar securitization was off to the races at the end of 2013 with the announcement by SolarCity of a $54.4 million solar asset-backed financing package. The deal, which pooled solar contracts from more than 5,000 installations, represents the first time that securitization, or the practice of pooling disparate sources of debt and selling the package to investors, has been applied to solar. Such deals accelerate solar adoption by increasing access to capital; expect more in 2014.
2. Solar Big Data, at last. The lack of financial, technical and operational performance data on solar PV systems has held back banks, insurers, credit rating agencies and utilities from investing in solar. Big Data has transformed the tech world, and 2014 will be the year it truly changes the trajectory of the solar industry. Platforms for aggregating and analyzing performance information from diverse sources are helping to accelerate investment in solar PV portfolios and speeding the securitization of solar.
3. Attacking gas waste. Around the world, billions of cubic meters of natural gas are wasted annually, typically as a byproduct of oil extraction. Gas-to-liquids (GTL) technologies can reduce flaring and produce gasoline at the same time, and as these technologies mature, we expect to see them gain ground in 2014.
4. Micro-hybrids hit the gas. Micro-hybrids automatically shut down a car engine to reduce idling time. They’ve been widely adopted in Europe and China, but not in the United States because more highway driving) make fuel efficiency less urgent need and because the technology is harder to install on automatic transmissions. With the proliferation of clean car standards and better battery technologies, look for the microhybrid market to grow to one in four cars by 2025.
5. Balance of systems shakeout. Much like the module market of years past, balance of system (BOS) companies are now clamoring to demonstrate differentiation through cost and performance benefits. In a crowded market, 2014 should bring attrition and consolidation, with lower prices than ever to continue solar’s extraordinary growth. Watch for developers and module manufacturers to start gobbling up some of the strongest BOS players to strengthen their own offerings.
6. Revisiting solar manufacturing. When solar module prices bottomed out faster than anyone expected, manufacturers were suddenly operating on minuscule margins. Now, after several years of battening the hatches and riding out the storm, manufacturers are back on the hunt for ways to not just survive, but to thrive. Advancements in raw materials — namely silicon — and low cap-ex/fabless manufacturing techniques are reentering the discussion as ways to improve bottom lines without compromising on performance.
7. PACE financing takes flight. After a few hiccups, the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing model is gaining momentum. This model enables property owners to finance energy-related upgrades — from double-paned windows to HVAC systems to solar PV installations – with no upfront costs, repaid through property taxes. Piggybacking off the successes of programs in California, Florida and Connecticut, a host of new PACE districts are scheduled to come online in 2014.
8. Voluntary green power markets boom. There’s no shortage of support for renewable energy in the United States, but not everyone can install a solar or wind generation system. More Americans are choosing alternative methods of supporting clean power, from buying community solar to purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). A recent report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory documented a 36 percent increase in renewable energy sales through these voluntary green power markets between 2010 and 2012. With the rise of innovative financing packages, this sector will continue accelerating in years to come.
9. Transforming trash into treasure. We’re seeing a new breed of recycling companies that remove perceived waste from landfills and revert them into high-tech, high-value applications. Companies are offering cash for mobile phones; turning end-of-life tires into raw materials for new tires, plastic goods and industrial applications; and transforming used juice cartons into resins for consumer goods. With raw material prices on the rise, expect a strong mainstream push in 2014.
10. The renaissance of Concentrated Solar Power (CSP). Targeted, cost-effective applications are fueling CSP’s comeback. CSP developers are increasingly rolling out industrial applications for mining, desalination and enhanced oil recovery (EOR), where the economic benefit is unquestionable. The opportunities are enormous: just solar EOR, whereby solar heat is used to generate steam that increases the amount of crude oil extracted from an oil field, is estimated to be a $113 billion global market.
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Antenna Group, a Beckerman company, is a leading strategic communications agency delivering public relations and integrated marketing services to entrepreneurial and innovative organizations in technology sectors ranging from energy to mobile communications and enterprise software/hardware technology and services. For more information, please visit www.antennagroup.com.
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