Will Clean Energy Pay Off?

Some people must think so. According to an article in Nature, venture capital investment in alternate energy has risen from about $30 billion in 2004 to almost $95 billion this year. Most of the investment has gone into solar energy technologies, and a large fraction of that is based on California, which is both blessed with plenty of sunshine, and cursed with a tremendous energy appetite. Biofuels has also gotten a big boost from venture capital.

The downside is that research investments in alternative energy research (which are not usually made by venture capitalists,) have remained flat for many years. This could be a problem, because there are still many technological and even basic science challenges that need to be addressed, before alternative energy like wind power, solar, and biofuels can really replace fossil fuels as our major energy supply.

But the increase in venture capital going into companies that are using new solar and other alternative energies is a very promising development, since it signifies that the private sector has come to the conclusion that there is a strong market for the existing technologies, and that companies selling alternative energy products are now profitable and will become even more so in the future.

One interesting (and hopeful) item in the article was the fact that one recipient of some of this capital investment was the Yingli Green Energy Holding Company, located in China. Perhaps this is an early sign that the Chinese are not ignoring the pressing need to start using alternative methods to satisfy their fast growing energy needs.

More discussion of some of the positive trends in energy and environmental developments can be found at www.wherewestand.net.

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