The market for green energy sources could hit $100 billion in the next decade. In two years, the market for green energy grew 68 percent to more than $16 billion in 2004, a heartening growth rate. A $100 billion market would be significant--the value of fossil fuel imports in 2003 was around $145 billion. If we had a $100 billion green energy market today, the need for fossil fuel imports would be significantly reduced. Of course 10 years from now the import burden will be much more--the value of imports has more than doubled in the past 10 years--so we are still playing catch up.
Still the signs of growth in the clean energy market are significant.
In the United States, incentives for renewables have been growing at the state level. Some 18 states have issued rules known as renewable portfolio standards that require as much as 20 to 25 percent of the power used in the state in the future to come from clean energy sources.
Two trends are boosting wind power in the United States. In gusty parts of the country, such as West Texas, wind power at 4.5 cents per kilowatt has even become cheaper than power from natural gas at 5 to 6 cents per kilowatt. In addition, utilities, such as Puget Sound Energy, a utility division of Puget Energy, have been buying wind farms.
"Instead of buying kilowatt hours, utilities are buying production outright," said Thomas Carbone, president of Vestas Americas, a division of Vestas, the world's largest wind turbine maker.
Meeting our energy needs in a post oil peak world will require both a major clean energy market and a substantial conservation effort for energy consumption as a whole.