As politicians debate how best to confront climate change or even if climate change is happening, the private sector is taking the reigns on creating a greener society.
Renewable and clean energy is climbing, while coal is declining. Consumers are increasingly considering environmental impact when shopping for products and services, and the market is rising to meet that demand.
Eco-friendly markets are showing growth across many different sectors from energy to transportation to food. Here are eight green markets to watch.
The renewable energy sector has seen tremendous growth in the past few years. One area that's seen especially significant increases is the solar industry, both in utility-scale and distributed solar.
The photovoltaic (PV) market grew 97% in 2016 across all sectors. Utility-scale solar more than doubled its 2015 installations. As the solar industry grows, opportunities in manufacturing, installation and distribution increase. Some companies deal exclusively in solar, and traditional energy companies are getting involved, too.
The wind power industry has experienced similar growth in recent years. Wind is more commonly a utility-scale investment, but you can also install small wind turbines to power your own home if you have enough land.
During the second quarter of 2017, the U.S. installed 357 megawatts (MW) of wind capacity. About 14,004 MW is currently being built with an additional 11,815 MW in advanced development, which brings the year-over-year growth to around 41%. Like with solar, the wind industry consists of manufacturing, installation and other areas. There are also opportunities in both onshore and offshore development.
3. Electric Cars
Tesla, run by the ambitious Elon Musk, has become synonymous with electric cars. Traditional automobile manufacturers like Ford, Nissan and BMW are getting in on the action as well. There are now more than 30 electric vehicle options on the market.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the number of electric vehicles on the road increased by 60% over the last year. The electric vehicle (EV) market boasted a 70% year-over-year surge in monthly sales in the U.S. in January of this year.
4. Green Lawn Care
Healthy vegetation is important for the state of the environment, but we often take care of our lawns in unsustainable ways. Several start-ups are trying to change that, spawning growth in the green lawn care market.
Holganix sells natural lawn care products containing microorganisms that decrease the use of fertilizers by 90%. In 2015, the company raised $300,000 in seed funding. Another startup, MowGreen.US, is working to replace gas mowers with push mowers to reduce the use of fossil fuels.
5. AC Rentals
Heating and cooling account for almost half of the average home’s energy use. It also makes up a significant share of emissions. To cut down on these emissions and save money, businesses and individuals are opting to rent air conditioning units rather than purchase them.
6. Energy Efficiency
Along with renewable energy and electric cars, energy efficiency has come to be an important strategy for reducing emissions. It also represents a tremendous business opportunity, as saving energy also saves money.
Energy efficiency spending in the U.S. increased by 6% from 2014 to 2015. Energy efficiencies said they planned to add about 260,000 employees to their workforce of almost two million. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, investments in energy efficiency are continuing to grow into 2017.
7. Fuel Cells
Fuel cells, which are similar to batteries except for the fact that they never go dead, are receiving increasing amounts of interest from researchers and businesses. They’re efficient and don’t produce emissions and can power everything from cars to laptops and even utility power facilities.
The market for fuel cells in North America is expected to grow by 25% from 2016 and 2024. In 2015, the fuel cell market was worth around USD 3.21 billion.
8. Organic Foods
The market for organic produce in the U.S. hit a new record in 2016 of $47 billion. The organics market has been growing steadily for years and shows signs of continuing to grow this year.
Organics now make up more than 5% of food sales in the U.S. and organic non-food products are becoming more popular as well. Small organic farms, grocery stores and other businesses are popping up everywhere. Large companies and stores are also expanding their organic offerings to meet demand.
Helping the environment and growing the economy aren’t mutually exclusive.
The growth of these various markets shows consumers and the private sector can have a positive impact on the environment — and turn a profit too.
Kayla Matthews writes and blogs about healthy living and has an especially strong passion for helping others increase their mental health and happiness by improving their daily productivity and positivity. To learn more about Kayla, you can follow her on Google+, Facebook and Twitter and check out her most recent posts on Productivity Theory. Read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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