It's Still The Best And Worst Of Times For Clean Tech

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The story for cleantech remains the same in July that it was in January: It’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times.

The best of times. The government support could not be better. Obama and Steven Chu are two big boosters. The Department of Energy has committed $50 billion for clean tech projects, Obama is working on climate pacts with the rest of the world, and leaning on Congress to deliver cap and trade legislation.

The worst of times. The fundamental economic drivers of a cleantech revolution are skidding. The credit market remains frozen, which hurts capital intensive projects like solar or wind farms. Oil prices are down from their frightening highs, as is the price of gasoline, which hurts hybrid car sales.

Natural gas prices are down, too. The Wall Street Journal points out, power plants burning cheap natural gas make alternatives like solar and wind seem even more expensive in comparison. T. Boone Pickens blamed cheap natural gas as the reason why he had to change his ambitious wind farm plans.

This is not a disaster. The good news outweighs the bad news. There’s no reason to think that alternative energy projects should be growing in the middle of the Great Recession.

When the economy does bounce back, a climate bill will probably be in place, the stimulus will hopefully be working and banks will start lending. Sure it’s been a rough year for clean energy, but it’s been a rough year for everyone.

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