In 2005, VC investment in clean tech measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The following year, it ballooned to $1.75 billion, according to the National Venture Capital Association. By 2008, the year after Doerr’s speech, it had leaped to $4.1 billion. And the federal government followed. Through a mix of loans, subsidies, and tax breaks, it directed roughly $44.5 billion into the sector between late 2009 and late 2011. Avarice, altruism, and policy had aligned to fuel a spectacular boom. Anyone who has heard the name Solyndra knows how this all panned out. Due to a confluence of factors—including fluctuating silicon prices, newly cheap natural gas, the 2008 financial crisis, China’s ascendant solar industry, and certain technological realities—the clean-tech bubble has burst, leaving us with a traditional energy infrastructure still overwhelmingly reliant on fossil fuels. The fallout has hit almost every niche in the clean-tech sector—wind, biofuels, electric cars, and fuel cells—but none more dramatically than solar.
A group of climate scientists faulted The Wall Street Journal for publishing a column in which scientists from other disciplines disputed the occurrence of significant man-made global warming. In a letter to the Journal today, the climate scientists compared the publishing of the op-ed to consulting a dentist about a heart complaint.
U.S. development ambitions for Chinese turbine manufacturer XinJiang Goldwind received a major boost yesterday as the company signed a new financing agreement with China Development Bank Corp., providing an estimated 35 billion yuan ($5.5 billion) in new capital for 2012. The deal, announced in a statement to the Hong King stock exchange, will allow the company to solidify its No. 2 standing in the Chinese turbine market behind Sinovel Wind Group Co., but will also help propel its recent expansion into the U.S. wind power market.
House Republicans yesterday advanced a trio of energy bills that would allow a vast expansion of oil and gas development in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the Gulf of Mexico and in the oil-rich Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The bills, which passed the Natural Resources Committee on mostly party-line votes, now move to the House floor where they are expected to join Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) “American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act.”
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is blowing into B’more Thursday to announce the Obama administration’s latest move to boost development of industrial-scale wind energy projects off the mid-Atlantic coast. He’ll be joined at the World Trade Center in the Inner Harbor by Gov.Martin O’Malley and Tommy P. Beaudreau, director of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. Officials were mum, officially speaking, on the details of Salazar’s announcement. A news advisory said only that the Interior secretary would declare a “major step” toward putting turbines on the Outer Continental Shelf off Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Virginia.
General Electric Co. executives expect more companies to exit the wind and solar power business, but they still see growing long-term demand.
Wind-generated electricity now makes up 5 percent of California’s power, a trade group said today as it lobbied Congress to extend a tax incentive. Developers added 921 megawatts of wind projects in the Golden State last year, enough to juice more than 400,000 homes, the California Wind Energy Association (CalWEA) said. Wind power capacity in the state now is 3,927 MW, the association said.
Senate supporters of efforts to curb carbon dioxide emissions hope to cobble together a package this year that would boost energy efficiency and alternative energy — and can pass the Senate. The group, headed by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), revived their Tuesday meetings late last year, and approximately 20 Democrats attend regularly.
Bipartisan enthusiasm for sweeping tax reform — a task considered nearly impossible to complete before the November elections — should not prevent lawmakers from swiftly extending renewable energy credits, the Senate’s chief tax writer said yesterday. At issue for the Senate Finance Committee are dozens of tax benefits that expired last year, including the research and development credit, as well as a passel more set to run out at the end of this year unless lawmakers act. In that latter group are two credits hotly pursued by alternative energy companies, a production credit used by wind and biomass producers and a 30 percent advanced manufacturing credit.
No longer a conventional utility company with a penchant for renewables, Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings has created a new stand-alone firm to sell wind, solar, geothermal and hydroelectric power into the unregulated energy market. The announcement last week by Des Moines, Iowa-based MidAmerican follows a recent flurry of investment in renewable energy projects, including a handful of wind farms in Iowa and Illinois and two large solar projects in the desert Southwest (ClimateWire, Jan. 24). MidAmerican is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, the investment firm backed by Buffett’s estimated $39 billion in personal wealth.