Trouble for clean tech investment

Wind turbines are powered by strong, prevailing winds near Palm Springs, Calif.

TEXT OF STORY

Steve Chiotakis: Investment in alternative energy has also stabilized despite the current recession. But next year has the so-called "clean tech" sector worried. From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, Sam Eaton reports.


Sam Eaton: As recently as last summer, companies making everything from solar panels to wind turbine gearboxes had months of backorders. Then, everything changed.

Ethan Zindler: Now there are literally warehouses in various parts of the world containing solar panels that don't have a home.

Ethan Zindler is an analyst with the research firm, New Energy Finance. He says that oversupply combined with the credit crunch could spell doom for clean tech in 2009. Which is why all eyes are on Obama's incentives that may be part of it.

But even with major government incentives for renewable energy projects Zindler says investors are already shifting to safer and cheaper bets, like companies that make existing buildings more energy efficient.

Zindler: It shows a very reliable payback over time, and therefore is relatively low risk for the person who's financing it.

And it's labor intensive. Which means energy efficiency projects may have a greater chance of attracting federal dollars because of the green jobs they create.

In Los Angeles, I'm Sam Eaton for Marketplace.

About the author

Sam Eaton is an independent radio and television journalist. His reporting on complex environmental issues from climate change to population growth has taken him all over the United States and the world.

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