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Understanding Renewable Energy Export Markets and the Opportunity for U.S. Companies

July 21, 2015

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Ryan Mulholland is a Senior Advisor for Industry & Analysis. 

The renewable energy industry remains one of the most transformative sectors of the global economy. The International Trade Administration is committed to providing U.S. renewable energy exporters the data-driven market intelligence they need to succeed globally – whether finding your next export market or comparing opportunities to export for the first time.

Last year, we released our first-ever Top Markets Report to provide exporters analysis of future export opportunities in the renewable energy sector.  This year’s Renewable Energy Top Markets Report, now part of a larger Top Markets Series from ITA, has been updated with expanded analysis, new sections, updated case studies, and improved methodology. The result is a report that can prepare exporters to compete effectively in foreign markets by providing the analysis firms need to invest resources more strategically.

So what does the future hold for the sector? In short, we believe that the next two years will likely be as transformative as any two-year period in the history of the clean energy sector.  Technology improvements, cost declines, and the catalytic influence of new financing structures, have turned the sector into a driver of economic growth – both at home and abroad.

Here are some important findings in the report:

  • China is expected to account for more than one-third of all non-U.S. capacity installations over the next two years. Its renewable energy investment is expected to be split relatively evenly between solar, wind, and hydropower through 2020.
  • The sector’s growth is now global in nature, escaping the traditional markets of Western Europe and strongly taking root in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Over the remainder of the decade, this trend will continue with important consequences for U.S. export competitiveness.
  • The United States does – and should continue to – capture a larger share of the import market in the Western Hemisphere. In fact, the share of the import market captured by U.S. renewable energy exporters more than doubles in the Hemisphere across technology sub sectors.
  • While opportunities can be found in most markets, the destination of U.S. renewable energy exports will continue to be highly concentrated. The top 4 export markets are expected to account for over 50 percent of all exports in the sector through 2016, while the top 12 markets should support three-quarters of all exports.

ITA’s framework for considering renewable energy export opportunities based on market size and market share was the most commented on and lasting impact of the 2014 edition of the Top Markets Report. ITA continues to encourage exporters to develop market entry and market expansion strategies based on these two variables.

  • If a market is large and U.S. exporters are likely to capture a significant market share, efforts should focus on making as many connections as possible. Exporters can feel good about their prospects, but may find other American competitors also having success in the market. Participation in trade missions, reverse trade missions, trade shows, and other “traditional” export promotion activities is encouraged in these markets.
  • In markets that are large, but in which the United States captures only a tiny fraction of the import market, exporters should consider the cause of the United States’ insufficient competitive position before pursuing opportunities. Perhaps importers are demanding products not often sold competitively by U.S. exporters, in which case a niche product might play well in the market. In markets, where U.S. market share is low because of a specific trade barrier, then exporters may want to prioritize other markets and alert U.S. Government entities, so that appropriate action can be taken.
  • In some markets, U.S. firms capture a large market share, but a relatively small market in which to do business. Exporters are encouraged to help the U.S. Government pursue market development activities in these locations, as any market development should lead to future export opportunities.
  • And finally, some markets are neither large nor support significant U.S. market share. While some companies may find niche opportunities, most exporters would be wise to consider opportunities elsewhere.

This post has only touched on some of the analysis you will find in this year’s Top Markets Report. We invite you to download the full report for our in-depth market analysis; and welcome feedback on our methodologies, viewpoints, and rankings.

2 comments

  1. Ryan – Thanks for the handiwork. We will be sharing the blog and links widely here. Andrew Wylegala, SCO Tokyo, Japan.


  2. Good to know the details. Renewable energy is one of the most transformation sectors of the global economy and nice to see in the full report the key trends, areas of opportunities for the leading countries.



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