In an economy still struggling to recover, most businesses, especially ones tied to construction, have serious concerns about what the next year holds.
Times have been tough for many commercial electrical contractors, despite some optimistic construction forecasts.
Even where projects are emerging or restarting, project owners are often placing increased price pressure on installers and suppliers. It’s still largely a buyer’s market.
Do robust opportunities exist? The answer lies in a set of industries that are rapidly emerging as part of the green economy. Green building and renewable energy sectors present an enormous potential for contractors to grow their businesses in the short and long-term. Driven by tax incentives and the rising costs of fossil fuels, opportunities will continue to expand.
Commercial Green Construction
New commercial and industrial building projects are increasingly emphasizing green construction, driven by the need to reduced costs, as well as LEED and other green incentives. The U.S. market for new, non-residential 'green buildings' is predicted to more than double as much as $145 billion in five years, according to McGraw-Hill Construction.
For electrical contractors this means opportunities in areas such as lighting systems upgrades, installation of solar electric windows, upgrading utilities and appliances that utilize renewable energy and parking lot electrical outlets.
Utility and Line Construction
The move toward alternative energy is one of the key factors driving improvements in demand for transmission-line erection and cable-laying services. Just last year electrical utility construction jumped 48 percent.
Construction of Alternative-Energy Manufacturing facilities and plants
Power plant construction was up 85 percent YTD as of October 2011. Currently, five of the top 12 large projects in the electric utilities category are solar plants; one of the top 12 is a wind farm.
Solar and Wind Power are Industries on the Rise
The solar industry has also enjoyed great success over the past few years. In the U.S., PV installations grew 109 percent in 2011. Solar is expected to continue to experience exponential growth over the next three decades.
In 2011, a total of more than 3,360 MW of wind energy capacity was installed in the United States alone. By the year 2020, wind is projected to produce 10 percent of the world's total energy.
What it Means for Contractors
Electrical contractors have a chance to get a real edge in the green industries.
Beef up your company’s experience and skillset in solar and wind construction. Make sure your team is up-to-date on the latest technologies and best practices in green construction
Follow the progress of local, state and national laws that mandate green buildings and research solar and wind project grants. Solar carport construction is a great example.
These fields are evolving quickly, so designers and engineers will need partners who can help them stay head of the curve, experts that deliver when a project has unique environmental specifications.
As these sectors to continue their rapid expansion, the electrical contractors who take advantage of the growth of the green market will be the ones reaping the benefits.