Green Economy Not Yet Ready For Primetime... But It Will Be Soon

The Wall Street Journal sings to its choir today, slapping at Obama’s plan to increase ‘green collar’ jobs. The simplistic claim: encouraging the use of renewable energy is inefficient and therefore will put people out of work.

The WSJ throws around some scary subsidy numbers, saying the government pays too much for renewable energy, and its still not cheap. The Journal says that if we try to hit Obama’s mandate for 25% of our energy from renewables we will kill manufacturing. The high price of alternative energy means factories will go under as they struggle to pay the outsized electricity bills.

The flaw in this argument is the time frame: Obama only wants to raise our current level of alternative energy consumption from 1% to 10% over the next four years.  And then hit the 25% mark by 2025.

Also, as long  as we keep investing in green technology, technology improvements should rapidly reduce the cost of green power. In the next two years, for example, solar power could reach grid parity, brought on by an oversupply of silicon modules. In the next four years, we should have technological breakthroughs that make transporting energy more efficient. Not to mention the fact that improvements in building efficiency should lower the demand for energy across the board.

In the next 17 years?  The hundreds of billions of private and public investment in alternative energy will pay off and alternative energy will cost less.  That is, unless we make the same mistake we made in the 1970s: Stop the investments because fossil fuel prices temporarily made alt energy relatively expensive.

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