The devastating earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear-power disaster in Japan are forcing a new look at the efficacy and safety of nuclear energy. Not so long ago, the Obama administration committed to boosting nuclear power. Now countries like Germany are saying they're reassessing their policies.
The gravity of these issues lends a particular urgency to new findings about venture capital investment in clean technology, as well as the state of the clean energy industry.
But at the same time, it all shows just how very far these sectors have to go.
First of all after a free fall in 2009, venture investment in clean tech increased, according to a report by the Cleantech Group . It rose 46 percent, from $3.5 billion in 2009 to $5.1 billion last year. And these investments comprised 23 percent of all VC investments. In 2009, VC investments in the sector dropped 42 percent.
The top investments went to companies in solar power, biomass, and electric cars. The biggest deal was a $350 million investment in Better Place, which aims to build an infrastructure for electric cars.
At the same time, a report from Clean Edge found that the growth of global revenue for the solar, wind and biofuel sectors was 35.2 percent in 2010 or $188.1 billion compared to $139 billion the year before.
Just look at solar photovoltaics. That market increased from $2.5 billion in 2000 to $71.2 billion ten years later. Wind power rose from $4.5 billion to $60.5 billion over the same time period.
Thing is while these growth figures, for both venture capital investment and the industry, are significant, the sector still is a drop in the bucket of the overall energy capacity required to fuel the world.
In fact they underscore how much more investment is needed in clean tech.
In the meantime, for the foreseeable future, companies--and all of us-will have to deal with increasingly expensive energy costs and questions about just how we're going to produce sufficient power-and the gambles that will involve.