Green Milestone: More Cash Going to Green Power Than Fossil Fuels, Says U.N.

solar power vs. coal power plant photo

Photos: langalex & tomsaint11, CC
Solar Energy & Wind Energy Kicked Ass in 2008
Despite the talks about how the recession is having a negative impact on green businesses, last year was a very good year for green power (this year might not be as good, we'll have to wait and see). For the first time, investments in green energy overtook investments in fossil fuels for power generation ($140 billion vs. $110 billion). But please note, this is for electricity, so we're talking mostly about coal and gas. Not gasoline and diesel fuel for cars. But still, it's good news. What's the breakdown? Which countries invest more? Read on.
solar panels photo

Photos: Jimmy Joe, CC
Money for Renewable Energy
About a third of the $140 billion invested in green power came from Europe, but the biggest growth came from developing countries like China and India. Part of the reason why they're doing it is to combat climate change, but there's no doubt that this is also a national security decision.

The Guardian writes:

"There have been many milestones reached in recent years, but this report suggests renewable energy has now reached a tipping point where it is as important – if not more important – in the global energy mix than fossil fuels," said Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN's Environment Programme. [...]

Counting energy efficiency and other measures, more than $155bn of new money was invested in clean energy companies and projects, even though capital raised on public stock markets fell 51% to $11.4bn and green firms saw share prices slump more than 60% over 2008

Where is the Renewable Energy Money Going?
  • Wind Power - $51.8 billion
  • Solar power -$33.5 billion
  • Biofuels - $16.9 billion

But those numbers don't tell the whole story. Wind power investments grew much more slowly (about 1%) in 2008 than solar power investments (about 50%), while biofuels were down 9%, mostly because of overcapacity and a growing popular and political backlash.

But it's not all rainbows and puppies ahead. 2009 looks like it's going to be tough on green power. The first quarter started with a 53% drop of investments into renewable power. Ouch.

Via The Guardian
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