Wired Magazine featured a story on “Why the Clean Tech Boom Went Bust” using the Solyndra failure as a case study. A long read, but well worth it, particularly if you believe that “clean and green” energy is just around the corner. I think this paragraph sums up the main point:
Perhaps the biggest force working against not just Solyndra but clean energy in general is this: Because natural gas has gotten so cheap, there is no longer a financial incentive to go with renewables. Technical advances in natural gas extraction from shale—including the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking—have opened up reserves so massive that the US has surpassed Russia as the world’s largest natural gas supplier.
Clean Tech isn’t going to replace fossil fuels just because it’s a good idea and better for the environment. As long as traditional energy is cheaper to produce and use, clean & green will remain on the edges. Large investments in clean tech haven’t produced the breakthroughs needed, and fossil fuel prices haven’t reached the tipping point where consumers will demand alternatives in profitable numbers.
Do energy prices impact your business? What do you think it will take to make clean & green viable?