The United States currently leads the way in clean energy investment, after investing $48 billion in renewable energy technologies such as solar panels and wind turbines in 2011. China is not far behind with $45.5 billion being invested in renewable energy technologies last year, while Germany is third with making $31 billion investment.
These are the results of recent study done by nonprofit Pew Charitable Trusts. The study also says that the U.S. lead in clean energy investment could soon end because many government incentives are set to expire within two years which will drive investors to other countries that have long-term clean energy policies in place.
Solar, wind, biomass and small-scale hydroelectric projects accounted for 565 gigawatts of electricity in 2011 which roughly represents 10 percent of the worldwide total.
In United States renewable energy sources (hydropower excluded) still provide only about 4.7% of U.S. generating capacity, despite the rapid growth of solar and wind energy capacity in the last couple of years.
The future of U.S. wind energy industry is still uncertain because wind energy tax credit is set to expire at the end of 2012. The fact that no U.S. wind projects have been commissioned for 2014 is the best proof of uncertainty within the U.S. energy industry.
And there's also the natural gas, being extremely cheap these days. The cheap natural gas, which also produces fewer emissions compared to coal and oil, has prompted many people to doubt the reasons behind massive renewable energy funding, especially after the Solyndra bankruptcy.
U.S. needs more long-term clean energy policies in order to draw more investment in years to come. The investors needs safe environment and the fact that many of incentives will expire in the next two years isn't exactly helping the cause.
The government incentives are needed to provide further boost to U.S. renewable energy sector, and government must not give too much thought about negative examples such as Solyndra, because every market has its losers and winners, and clean energy market is no exception.
The future lies in clean, renewable energy sources, and government needs to be aware of that all the time. U.S. simply cannot afford to lose its position as one of the clean energy leaders.