Is clean energy technology booming? Five reasons it is.


Elena Elisseeva, 114337797

You may have heard about the recent 60 Minutes segment that inexplicably reported the cleantech sector was in steep decline. There are quite a few reports out there breaking down the many fallacies of that segment, with most correctly concluding the sector is not dead, it is in fact booming and evidence of that surging momentum is everywhere you look. Consider these five examples that show just how good things are for cleantech these days:

1. The solar industry is booming.

The facts are unequivocal: the solar industry is alive and well. According to a new report and infographic released this week by Greentech Media Research and the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA), 2013 was a banner year.


 To see the full infographic, go to

The Wall Street Journal also recently reported that investors are more enthusiastically embracing solar stocks again, siting “an industry shakeout of the past few years and falling costs of producing and installing solar-power systems” as the reason for a “recent big gains in the stocks.”

The handful of solar companies that didn’t make it tend to grab more headlines. But on the whole, the solar industry has grown by leaps and bounds in terms of job creation, generating capacity, and investor confidence.

2. Federal grants are leading to incredibly successful startups.

Not only is Tesla Motors one of the most successful cleantech startups in the world, they are one of the most successful startups of any sector. They recently announced plans to invest $2 billion in a large-scale factory to produce cheaper batteries, and stock shares soared after news of the company’s robust production outlook. They must be doing something right to afford such robust growth, and none of this would have been possible without the Department of Energy loan program that helped get them off the ground.

And though Tesla is rightly held up as an example of the United States’ commitment to the advancement of clean technologies (to say nothing of their cars), they’re hardly alone. You can find examples of startups receiving federal loans to help jumpstart tremendously successful companies all over America.

3. States are paving the way for more cleantech success, too.

Take a look at New York, where Governor Cuomo recently announced an initiative to provide an additional $30 million to stimulate more large-scale solar and biogas projects in the New York City area. Meanwhile, in Arizona, state regulators are working on smart energy measures that would both lay a foundation for a strong rooftop solar industry while still allowing utilities to charge fair rates to solar rooftop customers.

Stories like these are indicative of the national trend – states increasingly recognize the value in supporting the robust cleantech sector because advancements in clean energy are good for people, business and the environment. And you can expect to see more such examples of state-sponsored, market-based solutions that benefit the public and private sectors alike as word about successful models like these spread.

4. More people are embracing cleantech. 

Of course, even favorable market conditions wouldn’t amount to much without strong demand for cleantech. Fortunately, new data suggests that after years of fluctuations, customers are increasingly interested. Solar energy, wind energy, and hybrid and electric cars all saw a rebound in interest compared to prior-year levels.

Google’s recent $3.2 billion purchase of Nest Labs, the company responsible for transforming “unloved” home products, such as thermostats and smoke detectors, into beautiful, smart appliances, is another indicator that more people are embracing cleantech. By purchasing Nest, Google was simply reacting to a market signal from customers whose interest (and investments) in smart, innovative home energy management systems have shown a significant increase over the past few years.

5. Cleantech costs are falling.

Lower costs play a huge factor in the cleantech industry’s success, according to the Department of Energy:

  • The cost of solar panels has dropped 75 percent since 2008.
  • The cost of LED lights fell 85 percent in that same timeframe.
  • Electric vehicle batteries cost 50 percent less today than they did four years ago.

There’s no question there is still much work to be done. The United States is at a crossroads, and there are still many policy, regulatory, and market barriers that EDF is working diligently to help remove so that an even broader-scale adoption of cleantech may be achieved.  A continued investment in cleantech will pave the way for a sustainable, clean energy future that grows our economy, helps families save money, and cuts pollution that causes climate change.

So let’s give credit where it’s due – the cleantech sector has taken off, whether the news reports it or not. 


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Benjamin Schneider

Benjamin Schneider

Benjamin Schneider is a communications manager at EDF who focuses on climate and clean air issues.

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Globally we are emitting 40-44 Billion tons of Green House Gases annually, here in California we emit 446 million tons of Carbon Dioxide a year, 1,222,000 Toxic Tons a Day.

The California Public Utility Commission is thinking of replacing San Onofre and Hydro losses to generating with Natural Gas Power Plants condemning our kids and our planet to Heating UP and Burning UP, unless We start Changing and Fighting for real Sustainable Energy Policies.

The state currently produces about 71% of the electricity it consumes, while it imports 8% from the Pacific Northwest and 21% from the Southwest.

This is how we generate our electricity in 2011, natural gas was burned to make 45.3% of electrical power generated in-state. Nuclear power from Diablo Canyon in San Luis Obispo County accounted for 9.15%, large hydropower 18.3%, Renewable 16.6% and coal 1.6%.

There is 9% missing from San Onofre and with the current South Western drought, how long before the 18.3% hydro will be effected?

We have to change how we generate our electricity, with are current drought conditions and using our clean water for Fracking, there has to be a better way to generate electricity, and there is, a proven stimulating policy.

The Feed in Tariff is a policy mechanism designed to accelerate investment in Renewable Energy, the California FiT allows eligible customers generators to enter into 10- 15- 20- year contracts with their utility company to sell the electricity produced by renewable energy, and guarantees that anyone who generates electricity from R E source, whether Homeowner, small business, or large utility, is able to sell that electricity. It is mandated by the State to produce 33% R E by 2020.

FIT policies can be implemented to support all renewable technologies including:
Photovoltaics (PV)
Solar thermal
Fuel cells
Tidal and wave power.

There is currently 3 utilities using a Commercial Feed in Tariff in California Counties, Los Angeles, Palo Alto, and Sacramento, are paying their businesses 17 cents per kilowatt hour for the Renewable Energy they generate. We can get our Law makers and Regulators to implement a Residential Feed in Tariff, to help us weather Global Warming, insulate our communities from grid failures, generate a fair revenue stream for the Homeowners and protect our Water.

The 17 cents per kilowatt hour allows the Commercial Business owner and the Utility to make a profit.

Commercial Ca. rates are 17 - 24 cents per kilowatt hour.

Implementing a Residential Feed in Tariff at 13 cents per kilowatt hour for the first 2,300 MW, and then allow no more than 3-5 cents reduction in kilowatt per hour, for the first tier Residential rate in you area and for the remaining capacity of Residential Solar, there is a built in Fee for the Utility for using the Grid. A game changer for the Hard Working, Voting, Tax Paying, Home Owner and a Fair Profit for The Utility, a win for our Children, Utilities, and Our Planet.

We also need to change a current law, California law does not allow Homeowners to oversize their Renewable Energy systems.

Campaign to allow Californian residents to sell electricity obtained by renewable energy for a fair pro-business market price. Will you read, sign, and share this petition?

Roof top Solar is the new mantra for Solar Leasing Companies with Net-Metering which allows them to replace One Utility with Another, we need to change this policy with a Residential Feed in Tariff that will level the playing field and allow all of us to participate in the State mandated 33% Renewable Energy by 2020.

This petition will ask the California Regulators and Law makers to allocate Renewable Portfolio Standards to Ca. Home Owners for a Residential Feed in Tariff, the RPS is the allocation method that is used to set aside a certain percentage of electrical generation for Renewable Energy in the the State.

Do not exchange One Utility for Another (Solar Leasing Companies) "Solar is absolutely great as long as you stay away from leases and PPAs. Prices for solar have dropped so dramatically in the past year, that leasing a solar system makes absolutely no sense in today's market.

The typical household system is rated at about 4.75 kW. After subtracting the 30% federal tax credit, the cost would be $9,642 to own this system. The typical cost to lease that same 4.75 kW system would be $35,205 once you totaled up the 20 years worth of lease payments and the 30% federal tax credit that you'll have to forfeit when you lease a system. $9,642 to own or $35,205 to lease. Which would you rather choose?

If you need $0 down financing then there are much better options than a lease or PPA. FHA is offering through participating lenders, a $0 down solar loan with tax deductible interest and only a 650 credit score to qualify. Property Assessed Clean Energy loans are available throughout the state that require no FICO score checks, with tax deductible interest that allow you to make your payments through your property tax bill with no payment due until November 2014. Both of these programs allow you to keep the 30% federal tax credit as well as any applicable cash rebate. With a lease or PPA you'll have to forfeit the 30% tax credit and any cash rebate, and lease or PPA payments are not tax deductible.

Solar leases and PPA served their purpose two years ago when no other viable form of financing was available, but today solar leases and PPAs are two of the most expensive ways to keep a solar system on your roof." Ray Boggs.