Though the waters ahead are choppy, with businesses laying off workers and shutting down, the prospects for renewables continue to grow.

Green_Wind_TurbineJust a few years ago, the future of renewable energy looked as bright and shiny as a white turbine blade coming out of the mold. The federal government was handing out money under the stimulus package, states were approving clean energy mandates, young companies were racing ahead with promising new technologies and big global developers were planting stakes for ambitious, utility-scale projects.

Now that picture has dimmed. The low price of natural gas has made renewable power less appealing to utilities and energy companies. The high price of gasoline has renewed calls to increase oil exploration and production at the expense of alternatives. State lawmakers are reconsidering requirements for utilities to buy green power. Surprisingly fierce competition from Chinese photovoltaic manufacturers has driven American ventures to the brink of bankruptcy and beyond. And the problems of Solyndra have given subsidies for green energy a bad name, which in turn has weakened interest from the private sector in financing it. 

Yet, though the waters ahead are choppy, with businesses laying off workers and shutting down, the prospects for renewables continue to grow. Major companies like General Electric, Dow Chemical and ConocoPhillips are developing or investing in new technologies. Many projects — some rushing to start in time to qualify for federal tax breaks before they disappear — are going forward.

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Source: Diane Cardwell | The New York Times