Update on CleanTech/AltEnergy: Comparing Asia, U.S. Initiatives
This article, Cleantech Future Threatened By Weak Venture Funding, caught my eye. Here’s an excerpt:
NEW YORK — The push to develop cleaner energy technologies–a widely embraced strategy for nurturing innovative new industries–is increasingly threatened by a shortage of investment, according to venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and renewable energy experts. . .
“But potential investors are balking at the sums involved, cognizant that early-stage technologies are an especially risky bet. . .
“At the same time potential American ventures are stalling, China’s leaders are directing enormous political and financial support toward forging a Chinese-made clean energy future. And they are moving fast. Chinese factories churn out enormous quantities of solar cells and wind turbines. More importantly, China is investing aggressively in innovation, with spending for clean energy exceeding $51 billion last year–a 31 percent increase from 2009, and ten ten times the level of American governmental support. . .
Given the incompatibilities of the private sector, government support may be crucial for cleantech to fully develop.
Biotech and the Internet, industries that also entailed high risks and costly failure, almost certainly would not have reached fruition without considerable governmental support. Yet compared to other countries–especially China, whose breakneck growth has absorbed ever-increasing amounts of energy, putting a premium on efficiency–the United States has been half-hearted in supporting clean energy.
Lack of research of money may be the most conspicuous hindrance, but a lack of encouraging policies may be of the greatest immediate impact. Experts bemoan an unstable regulatory environment that makes it difficult for risk-averse investors to calculate the costs and anticipated revenues of cleantech ventures, making them reluctant to bet their dollars. . . .”
Meanwhile . . . the U.S. Department of Energy’s touting “U.S.-China Clean Energy Cooperation,” along with its support and funding of Renewable Energy R & D, yet in the Spring of 2010 the U.S. Congress voted to cut $26 Billion from renewable energy research and loan-guarantees in order to pay states to pay teachers and police officers. So it goes.
Meanwhile — and regarding the aforementioned “U.S.-China Clean Energy Cooperation” — U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu is falling all over himself to tout how, “[t]ogether, [through the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center] we can develop and test new technologies, accelerate their deployment, and bring down their costs. We can boost exports and create new jobs. We can enhance energy security and cut pollution. And we can build a sustainable energy future for the U.S., for China and for the world.”
In other words, the U.S. doesn’t have the money or political will to truly lead, so we’re asking China to let us work together, and share intellectual property, so that we won’t get left too far behind. Gad.
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Meanwhile, in Japan, Germany & India . . .
“An agreement will soon be consolidated between Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) and banks from Japan and Germany. The agreements will provide India with $630 million of loans for the implementation of renewable energy projects.
“IREDA was founded in 1987 by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy for the function of providing finance for renewable energy projects in India. The prime objective of the body is to provide competitive loans for energy-efficient and renewable energy power plant projects. . . .” Here’s the full article.
In further news from Japan — that just hit the wire today (19 January 2011) — the Japanese government’s looking to “complete an investment treaty with Ukraine to push the export of its clean-energy technology abroad. Visiting Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and and Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan agreed to start negotiations this year for a bilateral treaty to promote and protect investments. . . .”
For a recent, concise analysis of Japan’s renewable energy development policies and practices, please see this “Quick Look” from Ernst & Young. This detailed report [pdf] (from November 2010) on global renewable energy attractiveness (by country) makes interesting reading for those interested in the subject. Ernst & Young’s “Top 5” for “Renewable Energy Investment Attractiveness: 1. China, 2. United States, 3. Germany, 4. India, 5. U.K. Japan stands at No. 15 in the world.
Meanwhile, more from India . . .
In a recently published report the Pew Charitable Trust estimates that renewable energy investment in India is likely to rise 370% percent over the next 9 years.
“The report [pdf, on all G-20 countries] states that under the current policy scenario, investment in India’s clean energy sector is likely to increase to $18 billion in 2020 compared to $2 billion in 2009. The cumulative investment over ten years from 2010-2020 are likely to reach $118 billion, that is, an increase of 369 percent.”
The Pew Report chapter entitled “China Takes the Lead, While the U.S. Slips” somewhat backs up my assertions set forth at the beginning of this piece. Alas.
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