Performance of cleantech firms improved in 2012 - E&Y report
* Cleantech firms' market cap rises 18 pct to $170 bln
* Resource scarcity, population, consumption drive growth
LONDON Aug 8 (Reuters) - The financial performance of "pure-play" clean technology firms improved last year as rising energy demand and resource scarcity drove growth, although market conditions remained challenging, a report from Ernst & Young said on Thursday.
Cleantech companies, such as those which manufacture solar or wind power technology, have had a difficult few years and some have even gone bankrupt due to consolidation in some sectors, cuts in government support for renewables development and the general effects of a weak global economy.
The European and U.S. solar sector in particular have suffered losses because the global market has been flooded with solar panels, leading to plunging prices, exacerbated by competition from China.
Many Western players, including Q-Cells, Conergy and Solon, filed for insolvency.
Even so, the market capitalisation of 424 public pure-play cleantech companies around the world increased 18 percent to $170 billion in 2012, while headcount rose 12 percent to 512,000, the report showed.
The accountancy firm defined pure-play companies as those which derived 50 percent to 100 percent of their total value from clean energy as of April 2013.
Investment funds and acquisition vehicles were excluded, as were companies participating in carbon market activities.
"The cleantech sector globally has shifted to growth," said Gil Forer, E&Y's Global Cleantech Leader.
"Resource scarcity, energy security concerns, population growth and increasing consumption by expanding middle classes in emerging markets, will continue to drive this cleantech market growth."
The United States and China had the most companies in the sector in 2012 and the Asia Pacific region saw the biggest rise in the number of companies - up by 16 percent to 177 firms.
The Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region saw an 8 percent decline in companies to 135.
Renewable energy generation companies showed signs of recovery as they benefited from lower technology and equipment costs. Their market capitalisation increased 8 percent to $25.5 billion and revenue rose 23 percent to $11.1 billion.
Although the number of wind equipment companies fell 2 percent, market capitalisation edged up by 2 percent to $30.8 billion and revenue rose 14 percent to $35.3 billion.
The number of solar equipment companies dropped 2 percent and revenue was down 16 percent to $42.5 billion but market cap was up 14 percent to $28.8 billion.
Biofuels experienced significant growth in 2012 as the number of companies in the sector increased 8 percent. Market capitalisation climbed by 25 percent to $13.1 billion and revenues grew 14 percent to $26 billion.
The report is available at: www.ey.com (Reporting by Nina Chestney; editing by David Evans)
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