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The Future Ain't What Is Used to Be

Ron Pernick's picture

Anyone still not convinced about the economic strength and viability of clean energy need look no further than the latest numbers in our annual Clean Energy Trends 2008 report. Against the backdrop of a contracting economy, record-high oil prices, rising home foreclosures, and consumer uncertainty, clean- energy markets grew by 40 percent from $55 billion in 2006 to $77.3 billion in 2007. We project that these same technologies will reach $254.5 billion by 2017. For the past decade, solar and wind have been averaging growth rates in excess of 30 percent per annum. That's a compounded annual growth rate that most industries would be envious of. Clean-energy naysayers complain that the cost for clean energy is still too high, but they just aren't looking at the numbers. The cost for solar and wind have both dropped by an order of magnitude over the past 30 years, bringing the cost of both sources within striking distance of, and sometimes even cheaper than, conventional energy sources. In fact, the average upfront capital cost for a new 1-gigawatt (GW) nuclear plant