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February 7, 2013 / Matt Jennings

New Solutions for Clean Energy

In order to properly tackle the gargantuan problem of climate change, we will have to employ a variety of solutions. There is no one technology improvement or policy change that will lower our emissions, clean our air and protect our resources over the long term. What we need is the right combination of policy proposals, scientific funding, clean energy adoption and international cooperation. Here are a few interesting links to provide an idea of the kinds of solutions being discusses right now:

  • Renewable energy industries have started pushing innovative financing options that may be able to help increase their ability to draw revenue from investors like oil and gas companies. Currently, renewable energy companies are not eligible for real estate investment trusts (REITs) or master limited partnerships (MLPs). Both of these mechanisms are utilized by fossil fuel producers to seek out investors who are willing to accept a lower rate of return because the investor pool is so large. Opening up clean energy projects to these resources might allow for more financing and has been projected to cost less than $1 billion over a ten year period (compared to $11 billion for tax credit programs). This relatively new and unproven solution has yet to be applied to clean energy and we would love to hear your opinion on how effective you think they would be.
  • The feed-in tariff is another mechanism that has been able to make an impact on the clean energy market. These FiTs “guarantee that anyone who produces electricity from a renewable energy source – whether they are a homeowner, small business, or large electric utility – is able to sell that electricity into the grid and receive long-term payments for each kilowatt-hour (kWh) produced. Payments are set at pre-established rates, often higher than what the market would ordinarily pay to ensure that developers earn profitable returns.” The strategy has already been used successfully to shift the energy landscape towards renewable in many European countries like Germany and Spain.
  • As mentioned earlier, Google has been at the forefront of clean energy investment. They have been embarking on an ambitious plan to help countless clean energy start-ups get off the ground with initial investments. They have supported wind farms in Texas and Iowa, rooftop solar projects and large-scale PV installations in California. Finding more investment giants like Google would be a huge step towards financing these state-of-the-art renewable energy initiatives.

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