Global investment in clean energy must reach $515 billion per year by 2030 — triple that of last year’s investment — in order to avoid “the catastrophic impact of climate change,” according to a report from the World Economic Forum and New Energy Finance.
We all know the track record of estimates like this - they're usually woefully understated. The utility of that record is that once committed and after massive cash outlays, too much is invested to back out once the real cost is realized.
Over the next 18 months, President Barack Obama wants to inject $54 billion into renewable energy as part of a larger economic stimulus plan — but that’s a onetime investment. Without question, reaching the Davos investment target will be no easy task. While the report authors argue that every stimulus package should push the cleantech ball forward (with support for educating a new generation of engineers and rolling out a fully digital power grid, for example), they see a necessary partnership between the private and public sectors ...
I certainly think that there is no question a new "fully digital power grid" is necessary. But not because of the reasons stated. I've been through all of that before. We have an energy demand gap building rather rapidly and we're not doing a thing except talk about pie-in-the-sky alternatives to close that gap. The new smart grid will be a necessary evolution regardless of fuel source, but it is laughable to believe alternatives and 'cleantech' are going to fill that gap any time soon.
In a time of economic turbulence, proven technologies are the way to fill that gap. But we should have been building such plants yesterday in order to do so. Instead we're talking about throwing massive amounts of money at things which are literally decades away from providing the energy we need now.
And, unfortunately, I don't see our politicians waking up anytime soon to that fact.