Renewables passes $US20b in North America

Faced with rising oil imports and mounting concerns over the environment, the study predicts these initiatives will likely provide new direction for the future growth of the North American renewable energy markets. Furthermore, U.S. state renewable portfolio standards (RPS) and the renewable fuel standard (RFS) mandates will likely propel the market’s growth.

Keeping with these mandate’s objectives, California has set a target of 12 percent of its total electricity to be generated from wind and geothermal energy. New York State will make efforts to increase its total electricity generated from renewable energy sources from 19 percent in 2006 to 25 percent by 2013.

Nevertheless, increasing raw material costs, high initial capital outlay and raw material availability pose notable challenges for market participants and could hamper market growth.

"Raw materials supply constraints are being noted in the solar energy segment, where the manufacturers face a shortage of silicon, the key raw material for solar energy generation," notes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Saranya Sundaram. "The growth of the wind turbines sector could also be impacted by the short-term price increases caused by the high steel costs and shifting currency valuations."

Addressing these challenges, the study notes that solar companies will increasingly invest in R&D aimed at finding a suitable substitute to silicon feedstock. Companies such as Nanosolar and Miasolé have begun to use copper alloy and copper-indium-gallium-selenide, which are easier and flexible to use. Use of such technologies will also reduce solar energy cost.

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