Hot sectors for energy efficiency

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By Elisa Wood

February 4, 2010

It’s clear that the energy efficiency industry is undergoing an unprecedented boom, spurred by state and federal support and movement toward a smarter grid. But for those in the industry, where exactly can the new business – and the jobs – be found?

Two new reports by Colorado-based Pike Research shed some light.

After years of focusing on bringing efficiency to manufacturing, policymakers are turning attention to deep retrofits for the home. Tax credits, low-cost financing, and other incentives make it easier for homeowners to install efficient heating systems, replace windows and insulate attics.

Thus, if you are a home energy auditor – or thinking of becoming one – you are in luck. The report forecasts that the energy auditing market will triple from $8.1 billion in 2009 to $23.4 billion by 2014. And from those audits will come recommendations that spur home improvements. Pike Research predicts a $50.2 billion market in the installation of new electrical systems, appliances and major equipment, HVAC systems, roofing, windows and doors and other efficiency improvements by 2014, up from $39.3 billion.

The more efficient homes need more efficient appliances, so the Energy Star appliance market also may see revenue growth. Under a business-as-usual scenario the industry is expected to generate $21.9 billion by 2014. But the market could see the addition of another $11.3 billion under a high-penetration efficiency scenario, says the study.

“Energy efficiency is stepping into the light after a long period of obscurity,” says Clint Wheelock, Pike Research managing director.  “A number of factors are converging to make energy efficient residential products and services a hot sector over the next several years.  These drivers include increased environmental awareness among consumers, government incentives, utility energy efficiency programs, and new offerings and rebates from product manufacturers.”

Meanwhile, the US also is realizing that a smart grid must be a safe grid. Increased attention is being placed on cyber security, measures to protect the electrical grid from attacks by terrorists and hackers, natural disasters, equipment failures and human error.

Companies that offer services and equipment to secure the grid are seeing a rapid increase in demand for their wares. Pike Research forecasts that from 2010 to 2015 about $21 billion will be invested globally in cyber security for the smart grid.

“No utility wants to be the weak link in the chain,” Wheelock says “The concern over grid vulnerability is driving utility technologists to work closely with systems integrators, infrastructure suppliers, and standards bodies to develop a robust framework for smart grid cyber security across multiple domains.”

The report finds that equipment protection and configuration management will experience greatest demand. Among smart grid applications, the firm expects that the greatest investments will go into cyber security for distribution automation (DA) and transmission upgrades, followed by security measures for advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) smart meters.

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About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of and She has been writing about energy for more than two decades for top industry publications. Her work also has been picked up by CNN, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal Online and the Washington Post.