We need your help to reach our fiscal year-end goal tomorrow. Donate Now

A banner year for clean energy

Sam Eaton Jan 1, 2008
HTML EMBED:
COPY

A banner year for clean energy

Sam Eaton Jan 1, 2008
HTML EMBED:
COPY

TEXT OF STORY

TESS VIGELAND: If you were with us yesterday you know Wall Street ended the year on a sour note. In fact, the month of December saw some of the same wild swings we experienced throughout 2007. Record highs with the Dow topping 14,000. And then of course all those downward spirals because of the housing bust and credit crunch. But not everyone is weeping their way into the New Year. Turns out ’07 was a banner year for clean energy. From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, Sam Eaton reports.


SAM EATON: Record oil prices may not be so good for the pocketbook. But for companies developing clean energy alternatives, near $100-a-barrel oil is a godsend. Oil prices closed the year 60 percent higher. That may help explain why venture capital investors poured $2.6 billion into clean-tech start-ups in the first nine months of 2007. That’s a 45 percent increase from last year. But Joel Makower of GreenBiz.com says investing in the sector isn’t for the faint of heart.

JOEL MAKOWER: Just like any other technology sector this is going to have fits and starts and bubbles and bursts.

He says overheated investment is starting to take the air out of the much-hyped ethanol boom. Shares in solar companies have also had a bumpy ride. But there are some rising stars. Innovations in energy efficiency attracted a big share of last year’s clean-tech capital. Solar-thermal technology, which concentrates the sun’s heat to run turbines, has also garnered a lot of attention. And it’s not just venture capitalists and start-ups. Makower says big-name corporations are getting into the game as well.

MAKOWER: New energy companies are not utilities and oil companies anymore. They’re companies like United Technologies and GE, I.T. companies like Cisco and IBM, financial services companies like Goldman Sachs, which is one of the largest wind-turbine developers in the world.

Despite all the activity and excitement around the green technology sector, it may still be too early to call it mainstream. especially as lawmakers in Washington failed to pass renewable energy mandates for utilities as part of the new energy bill.

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

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.  

The clock is ticking 

Our fiscal year ends tomorrow. Can you chip in $50, $25 or even $10 to help us reach our goal?