Investors Pour Unprecedented Billions Into Renewable Energy  

Posted by Big Gav

Environment News Service has a report on the rapid of growth of renewable energy investment, driven by concerns about global warming, high oil prices, the desire for energy security and a growing effort to avoid all the other unpleasant side effects of fossil fuel dependency (pollution, resource depletion and resource wars being the obvious examples).

Investment capital flowing into renewable energies such as wind power climbed from $80 billion in 2005 to a record $100 billion in 2006, according to a new report from the UN Environment Programme, UNEP. The trend analysis cites climate change concerns, increasing government support, and high oil prices as reasons for the boom.

The trend continues in 2007 with experts predicting investments of $85 billion this year. "The renewable energy sector’s growth "although still volatile ... is showing no sign of abating," the report states.

While the report finds that high oil prices have driven investors into the renewable energy market, UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner says many investors are choosing renewables regardless of oil prices. "One of the new and fundamental messages of this report is that renewable energies are no longer subject to the vagaries of rising and falling oil prices - they are becoming generating systems of choice for increasing numbers of power companies, communities and countries irrespective of the costs of fossil fuels, said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, introducing the report Wednesday.

While renewables today are only two percent of the installed power mix, they now account for about 18 percent of world investment in power generation, with wind generation at the investment forefront. Solar and biofuel energy technologies grew even more quickly than wind, but from a smaller base. ...

The report attributes the sector’s boom to a range of global concerns – climate change, increasing energy demand and energy security foremost among them. It credits as well the November 2006 U.S. mid-term elections, which confirmed renewable energy as "a mainstream issue," moving it up the political agenda.

Also spurring the sector’s growth has been the persistently high price of oil – averaging more than $60 a barrel in 2006. "Growing consumer awareness of renewable energy and energy efficiency – and their longer term potential for cheaper energy, and not just greener energy – has become another fundamental driver," it says. "Most importantly, governments and politicians are introducing legislation and support mechanisms to enable the sector’s development."

Dr. Mohamed El-Ashry knows a thing or two about investment. Currently chairman of the Renewable Energy Global Policy Network REN21, a forum for international leadership on renewable energy, he served as chairman of the Global Environment Facility, GEF between 1991 and 2002. Under his leadership, the GEF grew from a pilot program with less than 30 members to the largest single source of funding for the global environment with 173 member countries and billions in assets. "The findings in this report are adding to the mounting evidence that renewable energy is going to play a far greater role in the energy mix than many expected," El-Ashry said. ...

Renewables now compete head-on with coal and gas in terms of new installed generating capacity, says the report, adding that "the portion of world energy produced from renewable sources is sure to rise substantially as the tens of billions of new investment dollars bear fruit."

ENS's "World Wire" also makes the case that stainless steel is a green product because it is long lasting and can be recycled. It would be interesting to see how much energy is used to create stainless steel items and transport them to market compared to alternatives - but they are correct that stainless steel items fit the "cradle to cradle" goal of circulating endlessly though the industrial ecosystem.
With increasing fuel costs, and energy conservation awareness reaching new heights, the desperate search for innovative products and methods to "save the environment" continues. But could the answer be right under our noses? Jason Stile, CEO of JLS Global explains how stainless steel could be a viable solution because it's "green" and it's already here.

Many consumers are not aware that stainless steel is a green product; not the color green, but green for the environment. A company called MyStainlessSteel.com has grasped this concept and is educating consumers about the benefits of utilizing stainless steel to help their home and their environment.

"Stainless steel is a reusable product that's often overlooked. It can withstand extreme temperatures, doesn't stain or rust, and it can be melted and recycled. Consumers and companies can often choose stainless steel items at affordable prices, but will enjoy the long-lasting benefits for many, many years," states Jason Stile of MyStainlessSteel.com and JLS Global. ...

Stainless steel is a popular material used in a variety of products that can be melted time and time again and reformed into a new product. Plastic, on the other hand, is made from oil. Oil is a serious issue right now and is causing many worldwide problems. Plastic is also a major pollutant when manufactured or disposed of. Companies and individuals who want to make a difference in the environment can easily do so by simply choosing stainless steel products over plastic and other non-recyclable materials.

Stile states, "We all collectively change our environment even with small things like the decision between a plastic fork and a stainless steel one. MyStainlessSteel.com celebrates stainless steel and its many benefits by offering a variety of products -- all made of stainless steel -- to its customers."

TreeHugger has a review of a new book called "The Cleantech Revolution".
We Treehuggers know there’s something big going down. Every week there’s more and more clean technology news and we’re happy to report it. Bigger wind farms, better solar panels, alternative fuels, and ultra efficient architecture are all part of a trend that is making the world a better place.

But while we often focus on how much good these technologies are doing for the world, some folks are focusing on how much money there is to be made.

Ron Pernick and Clint Wilder’s new book “The Clean Tech Revolution” is subtitled “The next big growth and investment opportunity,” and they are very probably right about that. Ten percent of U.S. venture capital money is now going to “clean technology” investments. Everything from solar power, to efficient air conditioners; all signs point to an economic boom on the horizon.

Good for the planet and for the economy? Absolutely.

The key to the book is that it’s not an investment guide, it’s an overview to an emerging and quickly changing sector of the economy. The book starts with a list of must-know acronyms (from GHG to HVAC to NIMBY (greenhouse gasses, heating ventilation and air conditioning, not in my back yard…if you’re wondering)) and then quickly launches into an explanation of what Clean Tech means, what it is, and why it’s booming.

But then the authors settle down and get to business. In ten chapters they hit everything from bio-plastic to water purification, outlining the most promising companies and the biggest “breakthrough opportunities.”

The book is focused on investors, but the appeal is much broader than that. Every chapter is ended with a couple of tips for consumers as well as investors. But the appeal goes beyond that. “Environmental” books are so often about the problems that newcomers and hippies alike can come away either disheartened or frightened. But this book is swollen with solutions.

So whether you just want a nice dose of hope, or an outline of “the next big growth and investment opportunity,” this book is a great buy.



Links:

AP - Alstom to develop CO2 capture plant. The problem isn't capturing the CO2 - its transporting it and storing it somewhere where it will remain in places for hundreds of years.
TreeHugger - Nuclear Piggies Denied Access To UK Public Trough, Hold Out For That Tasty US Taxpayer Swill
TreeHugger - China's Weather-Changing Three Gorges Dam
TreeHugger - Canada's Largest Green Roof
TreeHugger - Europe's Warmest Winter in 700 Years
Resource Investor - Peak Oil Passnotes: Let Me Tell You an Inventory
Energy Outlook - Oil: How Near Is The End ?
Christian Science Monitor - Mexican farmers replace tequila plant with corn
SMH - BP surrenders gas field to Gazprom
Anthropik - The Shape of Collapse, #4: Latin America. While I don't really believe in collapse theories (or at least in the inevitability of them - a peak oil driven collapse would certainly require massive incompetence to make it eventuate) I always enjoy reading Jason's essays on the topic. As far as South America goes, I don't think resource nationalism is a way of avoiding collapse. If you look at the Swedish example (no energy resources, due to be fossil fuel free by 2020), you'll note the key is adopting technology that captures the energy you need from your local surroundings.
Anthropik - Archdruid Watch: Adam’s Morbid Fantasy. Primitivists and the ArchDruid arguing about what collapse looks like.
SMH - A dose of reality for carbon cops and culprits
WorldChanging - Urban Agriculture for Entrepreneurs
The Nation - Digby Speaks: The Netroots Revolution
Dispacthes from TJICistan - Copyright lawyer 'expert' sends threats by email - hilarious thread ensues. When I was studying engineering, there was only one faculty we held in complete contempt - law. I think this post explains why (though I hope this guy is an extreme example).
Dilbert - Dogbert the green consultant.

2 comments

steel is a green product? what? steel is why our vehicles are massively inefficient. we shouldnt be driving heavy metal cars powered by hydrocarbons, we should be driving hydrocarbon based cars driven by metallic fuels. steel is great for skyscrapers, not trucks, cars, et cetera

I think the point was that it is very long lasting and recyclable - and thus you can make items out of it (not necessarily cars) that perform for a long time.

As opposed to plastic forks for example.

In any case, I wasn't endorsing this view, just noting an article that may or may not have been egregious green-washing.

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