Renwables aren't being renewed....
Economic hard times for renewable energy...
For all the support that the presidential candidates are expressing for renewable energy, alternative energies like wind and solar are facing big new challenges because of the credit freeze and the plunge in oil and natural gas prices.
Shares of alternative energy companies have fallen even more sharply than the rest of the stock market in recent months. The struggles of financial institutions are raising fears that investment capital for big renewable energy projects is likely to get tighter.
Advocates are concerned that if the prices for oil and gas keep falling, the incentive for utilities and consumers to buy expensive renewable energy will shrink. That is what happened in the 1980s when a decade of advances for alternative energy collapsed amid falling prices for conventional fuels.
“Everyone is in shock about what the new world is going to be,” said V. John White, executive director of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technology, a California advocacy group. “Surely, renewable energy projects and new technologies are at risk because of their capital intensity.”
Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain both promise ambitious programs to develop various kinds of alternative energy to combat global warming and achieve energy independence.
Mr. Obama talks of creating five million new jobs in renewable energy and nearly tripling the percentage of the nation’s electricity supplied by renewables by 2025. Mr. McCain has run television advertisements showing wind turbines and has pledged to make the United States the “leader in a new international green economy.”
But after years of rapid growth, the sudden headwinds facing renewables point to slowing momentum and greater dependence on government subsidies, mandates and research financing, at a time when Washington is overloaded with economic problems.
John Woolard, chief executive officer of BrightSource Energy, a solar company, said he believed the long-term future for renewables remained promising, though “right now we are looking at tumultuous and unpredictable capital markets.”
Venture capital financing for some advanced solar projects and for experimental biofuels, like ethanol made from plant wastes, is drying up, according to analysts who track investment flows.
At least two wind energy companies have had to delay projects in recent days because of trouble raising capital. Several corn ethanol projects have been delayed for lack of financing in Iowa and Oklahoma since last month, and one plant operator in Ohio filed for bankruptcy protection last week.
Tesla Motors, the maker of battery-powered cars, recently announced it had been forced to delay production of its all-electric Model S sedan, close two offices and lay off workers.