The global advanced energy sector—including everything from building efficiency to advanced biofuels—brought in twice as much revenue last year as civil aviation, after growing by 7% between 2015 and 2016. In the United States, however, the sector hit a plateau, growing a meagre 1%.
The data come from the fifth annual Advanced Energy Now Market Report produced by U.S. consultant Navigant Research and Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), an association of business leaders with the stated goal of “making the global energy system more secure, clean, and affordable.” The report, now in its fifth annual edition, surveys seven subsectors: building efficiency, electricity delivery and management, and what it describes as “advanced” transportation, industry, fuel production, and fuel delivery.
Together, those sectors brought in global revenue of US$1.4 trillion in 2016, $100 billion higher than the survey reported in 2016 for the previous year.
That put advanced energy at “almost twice the size of the global airline industry,” AEE observed, “and nearly equal to worldwide apparel revenue.”
Last year’s flat growth for advanced energy industries in the United States came after five years in which expansion averaged “5% annually, for a total of 28% compared to 2011,” the latest report says. The analysis put last year’s anemic growth down “primarily to the effect of low oil and corn feedstock prices on ethanol revenue. Without ethanol, U.S. advanced energy grew 5% in 2016, three times faster than U.S. GDP.”
Nonetheless, “the U.S. advanced energy industry generates $200 billion in revenue [in 2016], nearly double beer sales, equal to pharmaceutical manufacturing, and approaching wholesale consumer electronics.” American investment in building efficiency grew by US$5 billion last year, while installed energy storage expanded by 54%. Revenue from plug-in electric vehicle sales “has grown tenfold over five years, from $700 million in 2011 to $7.8 billion in 2016, and 48% [in 2016] over 2015, as all-electric alternatives to gasoline-powered vehicles caught on in the marketplace.”
The report notes that “the advanced energy industry is also a major employer, supporting more than three million U.S. jobs. That’s equal to the employment provided by retail stores, and twice the jobs in building construction.”