6 Factors Shaping the Renewable Energy Industry in 2008

solar%20shingles.jpgMany industries experienced turbulence this year and renewable energy was no exception. 2008 was really a mixed bag for the industry, with lots of good and bad news.
1. High Energy Prices
Natural gas and oil reached record highs in July, 2008. This impacts the price of energy overall and make renewable energy more favorable. The return on investment for a solar power plant for example is shorter when considering the cost of the electricity generated from natural gas.
2. Toppling Energy Prices
After peaking in July, the price of oil and natural gas have since plummeted. This has made it harder to finance renewable energy projects.
3. The Credit Crunch
It is not just hard to secure a mortgage. Homeowners wishing to pay for a solar system using a home equity loan may have been denied. Even billionaire, T. Boone Pickens hasn’t been able to finance his enormous wind farm in Texas.

4. Extension of the Federal Tax Credit
After numerous near misses, the investment tax credit that encourages residential and commercial renewable energy projects passed. It removed the $2000 cap on the tax credit for residential systems and extends the incentive to utilities. This 30% tax credit was originally created in 2005 and has now been extended through 2016.
Although this incentive doesn’t have a direct impact on renewable energy in 2008 because the law take effect in 2009, the indirect impact cannot be over emphasized. The existence of an 8 year incentives give stability to an industry that has seen many undulations.
5. Election of Obama
By 2025, Obama would like 25% of U.S. electricity to be generated from clean, renewable sources including wind, solar and geothermal. He calls for $150 billion to be invested over 10 years in clean energy and infrastructure to support it.
6. Fluctuating Commodity Prices
Renewable energy systems rely on raw materials, such as silicon, copper, and steel. Many of these materials have spiked in price in recent years, but some prices have started declining. The silicon shortage caused by a spike in solar panel production may be ending and the cost of copper has started falling.
More Posts on Renewable Energy:
Top Five Prime Nations for Renewable Energy Investment
Solar Stocks Very Low Despite Obama Victory
Oil Executives: Oil Out, Renewables In
Use Tax Credits to Go Solar
Florida Power & Light Breaks Ground on World’s First Hybrid Solar Plant

Sarah Lozanova is a green copywriter and communications professional specializing in renewable energy and clean technology. She is a consultant for Sustainable Solutions Group and a regular contributor to environmental and energy publications and websites, including Mother Earth Living, Home Power, Earth911, and Green Builder. Her experience includes work with small-scale solar energy installations and utility-scale wind farms. She earned an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School and she resides in Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage in Midcoast Maine.

9 responses

  1. I’m waiting for this – I’m hoping it happens a lot sooner than 2025. Between push from government officials, the tax credit, and people tiring of old energy sources I hope things like solar will sky rocket to popularity!
    I’m watching any companies that have an aim to make this switch over easier, and more cost effective. : )

  2. As a Project Manager, I can see that there are 6 goals for this undertaking; but what I do not see is a plan (that everybody knows about and understands) that is well defined that takes us to these goals. The easiest way to make my point is to indicate that there is a need for a check-list (in an outline format) that takes a person from the beginning of their involvement all the way through the process; from doubter to convert to supporter to activist.
    I suspect that most people currently involved with the Pickens Plan are at worst supporters. This means that there is no organized attempt to reach the doubters or converts (they may believe in the goal, but don’t believe that it is critical right now). I would bet that the doubters/converts amount to 99% of the public.
    Now I must admit that there probably is more to this endevor than I am aware of, but then again isn’t that a problem in and of itself?

  3. What did H. Ross Perot teach us
    Mr. Perot did the impossible. He was able to get a significant number of people to vote for him for President. No other independent has been able to match him.
    How did he do it? He told us that the national debt was so large that if we took a stack of $100 bills that reached the moon and back, it still would not be as large as the debt. He understood that a picture is worth a 1000 words.
    For example, I have never seen a chart that showed the effects of our current population (and projected population) as a function of the US oil reserves. This would most certainly illustrate the growing gap — and guess who will be filling that gap? could it be foreign oil?
    there are so many examples, that it boggles the mind.

  4. The Bush legacy.
    The one thing that Bush tought us is that the best way to get support is to make sure that “the people” do not feel any pain. As long as their taxes don’t go up, Hey Let’s Party! Obviously, this caught up with us, but the point is there.
    What is people were sent some information about the Pickens plan, and they were given 2 opeions:
    1. enough information is provided so that they can contact their legislators (for example) themselves, or
    2. they could check a box giving the Pickens people permission to contact the legislators in their behalf.
    I would be willing to bet that option 2 would be chosen 100 times more than option 1.
    just a thought outside the box.

  5. At the point of peak demand, from Asia and the U.S.A. recently, oil was driven to and all-time high of $147.38 bbl. Expect to see that figure again and soon. devaluing the dollar by bailouts will drive oil even higher! The truth is, the wells in OPEC countries, and around the world, are drying up faster than expected, and America must get off of oil fast! Nuclear power, one engineering error from Armageddon, and with NIMBY waste problems, just doesn’t look as good as the old faithful, unrelenting, perpetual, renewable Hoover Dam and other renewable, perpetual resources any more! Solar, Wind, Wave, Hydro, Tidal, and Geothermal power and lifestyle changes for more efficient use of our Energy will allow us to survive, but right now we are the most slovenly, wasteful folk on the planet, and we must remedy that first! Did you know that Sweden takes the heat from their reactors and power plants and feeds it to greenhouses and grow all their garden needs with it? Americans waste half their fuel in “Cooling Towers” an American engineering marvel designed to screw taxpayers and destroy the environment! We also waste our sewage, dumping it often raw, in our lakes and rivers and seashores because we are so wasteful and slovenly we find this easy way out and do it! Sick bastards we are! meanwhile, Oslo Norway, has a better idea, SEE: Free, friendly and non-fossil – biomethane from human waste will soon power public transport in Oslo, the capital city of Norway. http://ecoworldly.com/2009/01/29/human-sewage-to-power-buses-in-norway/
    And: The process gives a sludge that can be used on gardens, for fertilization and soil building! Com’on, Yankee Doodle, pull up yer socks! the Norwegians no less! But, thats not all! Our Uber-rich have invested in China in a big way! and the Chinese who immegrated here for a better life have returned to China! Why? To do this: SEE:
    “The astounding Chinese have epoched the great GM, of U.S.A. in producing an Electric/gas/plug-in car! They are driving them in the streets of China as we speak, they will be retailed in the U.S.A. by 2011, they will cost half the price of a “Volt” and they are “On Order” for Israel! GM take a deep breath, your naughty parts have just been cut off by a Chinese high-tech competitor, and the “Volt” is still “Vapor-ware”!” See:http://www.cleantech.com/news/3983/chinas-byd-sells-first-mass-produced-plug-cars
    Might have something to do with the economy and all? Say What?

  6. Pingback: Four factors affecting the wind industry in 2010 - The Environment Site Forums

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