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Posted by: Mark Scott on November 04, 2009
The end of the year is fast approaching, so predictions for 2010 are starting to get the rounds. On Nov. 4, it was consultancy Deloitte’s turn to pull out its crystal ball. In a report entitled ‘Energy Predictions 2010’, Deloitte laid out trends it expects to take hold next year. Here’s a crib sheet for green business:
1) Smart grids/meters will take the world by storm. Annual global spending on the technology will jump to $33 billion by 2014 vs. $12 billion in 2008. That could increase electricity grids’ efficiency two-fold and reduce consumers’ energy consumption by 30%.
2) Oil-producing countries (particularly in the Middle East and North Africa) will become hotbeds for renewable energy. Close proximity to European markets, abundant cash to invest from oil revenues, and ideal weather conditions, especially for solar power, could pay off in a big way.
3) Sector-specific carbon cap-and-trade systems, say for the shipping or aviation industries, may take precedent over unwieldy national, regional, or global plans. Under the schemes, companies, wherever they’re based, would agree to binding targets, then trade carbon credits between themselves.
That sounds all well and good, but I’m not sure I agree with all the predictions.
The 'year of the smart grid/meter,' for instance, has been discussed for almost a decade. (Though government stimulus money earmarked for the technology certainly will push things forward). And the technological, political, and financial impediments of linking Middle East or North African countries into Europe's energy grid are daunting.
Yet the third idea of sector-based carbon trading makes a lot of sense. Lessons from Europe's scheme, let alone the ongoing dogfight over the proposed U.S. federal system, suggest a small, industry-focused plan could work better than trying to include everyone under the sun. And if the build-up to the post-Kyoto negotiations in less than a month isanything to go by, we all might be in for a big disappoint in early December.
So why not focus on individual, high-polluting industries like energy, chemicals, or aviation? For me, that prediction may well have legs.
BusinessWeek correspondents John Carey and Mark Scott, cover the green scene, keeping on top of the business aspects of energy, the environment and climate change, as well as the technologies, policies, markets and people that are shaping how the earth's resources will be used in the century ahead.