1. IPOs will continue to make or break well-funded greentech startups. A host of greentech startups that received millions of dollars of investment are now facing the moment of truth: Show investors profitable exits, or else.
2. Solar power will continue to get cheaper, both through growth and by necessity. iSupply predicts solar panel prices will fall about 5 percent, and overall solar project costs nearly 10 percent, in the coming year.
3. Biofuels will continue to struggle for profitability and scale. ‘Nuff said. 2010 was a hard year for biofuels, expect things to get worse in 2011.
4. Utilities will continue to spend stimulus dollars on smart grid rollouts, but will adapt to customer and regulatory pushback. Utilities are learning — albeit slowly — from some of the hurdles in 2010 concerning consumers smart meter adoption.
5. Electric vehicles will finally have a chance to prove or disprove their mass-market appeal. 2010 saw the emergence of two mass-market plug-in cars (Nissan's LEAF and GM's Volt), and by later on in 2011, we'll get to see the first indications of how popular these inaugural vehicles will be.
6. Greentech venture capital investments focus on software, services and ancillary technologies. It appears VCs are resetting their sights on smaller, more nimble technology players that can offer improvements to existing processes (go energy efficiency), instead of capital-intensive clean power projects.
7. Data center server architecture and energy awareness will grow in importance. Data centers won't stop growing, and their energy needs won't subside anytime soon. Now that some early adopter Internet firms (Google, Yahoo) have led the way, expect energy efficiency tech in data centers to become the norm.
8. New financing models will emerge for everything from solar power and batteries to energy efficiency. From energy efficiency upgrades to electric vehicle charging to after-market energy storage, look for new forms of financing for greentech.
9. China will continue its march toward greentech dominance. High up on everybody's greentech prediction list is, of course, China. The country is leading the world in government greentech investment and is dominating markets from utility-scale solar power, to electric scooters (and one day EVs).