Utne Blogs > Environment

The Good and Bad Economic News About Renewable Energy

by Jake Mohan 

Tags: Environment, renewable energy, solar power, wind power, economy, politics, Election 2008, Triple Pundit, New West,

solar panelsThe renewable energy industry is more dependent than ever on the direction of the currently ailing economy. Recent news items from Triple Pundit and New West offer different perspectives on the economic plight of renewable energy.

Triple Pundit states that future investment in renewable energy will create more jobs. TP’s Gina-Marie Cheeseman turns to a Berkeley report on the job-creating potential of the renewable energy industry. “Every $100 million invested in the renewable sector creates 2,700 new jobs. The report estimated that additional investment between 2007 and 2010 will be between $14 billion and $19 billion, which will create between 400,000 and 500,000 new jobs.”

Cheeseman extols the economically stimulating effect of renewable energy, noting that worldwide wind power capacity increased 50 percent between 2006 and 2007, while solar power accounts for forty percent of the capacity in developing countries.

This is a sunny forecast from a publication that looks at the business side of renewable energy. But New West is focusing on the ways that the credit collapse and global economic downturn has slowed the solar power industry. “Stock analysts have downgraded solar companies,” reports Richard Martin, and “Xcel Energy announced it is slashing the rebate it offers to homeowners installing new solar panels.”

Xcel is reducing its solar-panel rebate because Congress’ bailout package offers a generous tax credit to solar users. But the credit will take a while to implement, meaning a higher up-front cost. In an economy where homeowners are hurting, it’s hard for them to make the sort of long-term investment solar power entails.

Image courtesy of Pink Dispatcher, licensed by Creative Commons.