Clean Technology on the Brink
The report, written by energy and technology experts at the Breakthrough Institute, the Brookings Institution and the World Resources Institute, says that renewable energy generation doubled from 2006 to 2011, the first new nuclear plants in decades are under construction, and prices for solar, wind and other clean energy technologies have fallen while employment in those sectors has risen by 70,000 jobs even during a deep recession.
Those gains could all be lost unless the federal government at least temporarily renews and pays for a variety of subsidies and production credits that have supported those industries as they strive to compete with fossil-fuel based energy sources, the report states.
The study notes that the tens of billions of dollars from President Obama’s stimulus program are drying up, even as tax breaks that have supported wind and solar power generation are expiring. The result is an anticipated 75 percent decline in federal clean technology spending by 2014 from a peak of $44.3 billion in 2009.
The authors recommend renewing some of the tax incentives and boosting federal spending, at least until those industries can compete on their own. “With the right reforms,” they conclude, “the United States has the opportunity to be a leader in the invention and production of next-generation technologies for sale to an energy-hungry global market.”