From The Atlantic magazine, some excerpts from the article, The Elusive Green Economy, by Joshua Green:
“The best way to get an idea of what a green future might look like is to visit Silicon Valley. It’s impossible to convey how otherworldly the place felt this spring. While the rest of the country suffered beneath the blackening clouds of recession, Silicon Valley buzzed with giddy anticipation that “cleantech,” in local parlance, represents the next great economic boom. In a place that reveres its idols the way ancient Rome did, no less than the famed venture capitalist John Doerr has pronounced cleantech “the biggest economic opportunity of the 21st century.” Today, Silicon Valley is the anti-Detroit.
- “Last year, cleantech was the third-largest recipient of venture funding, after IT and biotechnology, with investments of $5.8 billion. But that statistic doesn’t begin to convey its psychic significance. It’s all anyone wants to talk about.
- “Exhilaration over clean energy has so thoroughly swept Silicon Valley that it has transformed the local culture. Conspicuous consumption has given way to conspicuous conservation. The favored status symbol is no longer the giant yacht or the sprawling mansion but the home designed to be so ruthlessly energy-efficient that it generates its own power and produces a surplus that can be selflessly fed back into the grid.”
Plotted on a graph, the history of clean-energy production in the United States resembles the blade of a saw, rising and falling each time subsidies came and went. Japan, Germany, Spain, and Denmark show smooth, upward-sloping yield curves, a reflection of consistent government policy.
In the US, wind and solar didn’t die when the tax credits dried up. They moved overseas. Denmark offered robust government support, and came to dominate the wind industry. Germany and Spain found success with solar energy by requiring utilities to pay hefty “feed-in tariffs”—above-market rates—to anyone who sent electricity to the grid. Japan also built a vibrant solar market. Read the whole article – it’s worth it- here >>>
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