Investment in renewable energy grew in 2009 in wind and biofuels – despite most of the world’s economy being mired in recession, according to a new Clean Energy Trends report from market research firm Clean Edge, Inc.
The third pillar of clean energy, solar power, saw revenues shrink, but only because of a crash in the price of solar panels, which have seen double-digit decreases.
Wind farms and turbine manufacturers collected $63.5 billion in revenue worldwide last year, up 23.5 percent from 2008. Biofuels raked in $44.9 billion, up 29 percent. Solar power revenue was down 20.3 percent to $30.7 billion, according to a break-out of the data by the San Francisco Chronicle.
Big Government to the Rescue
A big factor in the sustained performance of renewables in a very down year was government support. In the US, an estimated $100 billion of the $787 billion stimulus package passed by the Obama administration went to renewable energy projects, according to the Clean Edge report.
But the States was not the only place public money was pushed into clean energy. China, South Korea and Japan all used national economic stimulus efforts to spur renewable energy, on top of existing initiatives.
The End of Climate?
The Clean Edge report predicts massive growth for renewable energy in the coming decade, from $139 billion in 2009 to $325 billion in 2019. But post-Copenhagen, relying on climate regulation for that growth has become “a distraction,” according to the report:
Moving forward, the conversation will need to focus on energy and national security, job creation, environmental protection, and global economic competitiveness. Yes, we’ll still need a price on carbon to signal markets – but that can now come by viewing carbon for what it is – a source of pollution (which is backed up in the U.S. by a Supreme Court ruling). By changing the frame, and focusing on different drivers and outcomes, the growth of clean tech may be better served than focusing solely on something as nebulous and divisive as climate.
As the report points out, Americans tend to like the idea of clean energy, even if they remain suspicious of cap and trade and this whole “global warming” scam.