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Investors Spend More Money on Alternative Energy Sources Than Fossil Fuels

6/17/2009 12:00:00 AM

Tags: alternative energy, wind, solar, geothermal, fossil fuels, coal, oil

This is a cool first. This year, alternative energy companies received more investment money worldwide than fossil fuels. Last year global investors funneled $140 billion—56 percent of their total investment dollars—into green power sources such as wind and solar. 

Wind turbine
Investors spent $51.8 billion on wind power in 2008. Last year investments in alternative energy outstripped fossil fuel investments for the first time ever. Photo by thinkpanama/Courtesy Flickr 

At $51.8 billion, wind received the most investments – but it has expanded by only 1 percent since 2007. Solar investments were next highest at $33.5 billion. Geothermal energy received only $2.2 billion but experienced the most dramatic investment growth, increasing 149 percent since 2007. (Geothermal’s hot.) 

Chinese investors spurred much of the growth, especially in wind power. Australia, Japan and Kenya increased spending on geothermal energy, and Brazil, Chile, Peru and the Philippines are also implementing laws that support clean energy. 

That’s the cool part. The depressing side of this equation is that alternative energy still accounts for only 6.2 percent of our total generating capacity and only 41 percent of new capacity. When averaged out, investment in green power sources has grown very little over the last few years, and in the United States, investments have actually dropped 8 percent since the economy’s tanked. 

What can we do? If we have the means, investing in an alternative energy system ourselves is a powerful option. If we don’t have the means, buying wind energy from your local utility may be. Spending your energy dollars on clean, renewable energy could be the smartest investment you’ll make.

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