Report: 1999 renewable market totals $843 million

The value of the North American renewable energy markets increased to $843 million in 1999, up from $204 million in 1998, Frost & Sullivan, San Jose, Calif., says in a new survey. Last year's figures received a boost as developers rushed to beat the deadline on a federal production tax credit for wind projects, which has since been extended.


The value of the North American renewable energy markets increased to $843 million in 1999, up from $204 million in 1998, Frost & Sullivan, San Jose, Calif., says in a new survey. Last year's figures received a boost as developers rushed to beat the deadline on a federal production tax credit for wind projects, which has since been extended.

Frost & Sullivan expects growth to slow in the near term and then resume its rapid pace again by 2004. However, the consulting firm doesn't expect the growth achieved in 1999 to recur during the forecast period.

Long considered fairly novel, renewable energy technologies are finally becoming mainstream energy options, it says, as deregulation of the energy industry opens the door to competition. Frost & Sullivan says such new power generation methods will soon be firmly entrenched in the North American electricity infrastructure.

Growth across the renewable energy segments is expected to be relatively uneven in the near future. Wind and biopower segments, such as waste-to-energy, both show promise, the consultants says, with the wind power segment experiencing the most rapid growth. Biopower should also continue to grow steadily on the heels of recent tax incentives.

�Although deregulation and competition have fostered the introduction of renewable energy technologies, the demand for low-cost electricity puts the higher cost of renewable energy at a disadvantage,� says Frost & Sullivan Analyst Heidi Anderson.

�Currently, coal and natural gas are cheaper than any form of renewable energy. Education about the environmental and social benefits of renewable power must be integrated with information about pollution and other side effects associated with fossil fuel�based power generation,� she says.

Anderson says the renewable energy industry must focus on research and development to compete with fossil fuel-based power generation. And market participants must move promising technologies quickly from the development stage to the marketplace.

Research should be balanced with extensive marketing, she says, since a technically sound product is not always sufficient. Manufacturers know that product recognition in the marketplace is essential.

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