Green tech year in preview

The outlook for clean tech in 2009 is solid, with money projected to go to start-ups. But the falling price of oil and the financial crisis have dampened the speed of technology innovation.

How bright is the future for green technologies in the coming year? On the whole, the picture appears positive but still susceptible to swings in energy prices and political sentiment.

With an incoming administration that intends to spearhead a comprehensive energy policy and reduce carbon emissions , many expect to have a favorable policy environment for clean-tech businesses.

Consumers and business, too, continue to gravitate to all things green even in the face of greenwashing .

Driven by these forces, many clean technologies are already starting to crack into the energy industry, which is dominated by huge corporations.

For example, solar technologies, including solar thermal power plants and thin-film solar cells, are starting to be commercialized. Electric cars, too, have come to market with many more in the works that target mainstream consumers .

But at the same time, the wave of green-tech companies and initiatives formed over the past four years face some serious head winds .

The drop in oil prices makes many ventures, particularly those in biofuels, less competitive on price alone.

A steady climb in energy prices over the past few years prompted consumers to shift to fuel-efficient vehicles and businesses to invest in energy efficiency. That behavior could change after the precipitous drop in oil prices caused by the recession in the second half of 2008.

Meanwhile, some investors in clean-tech start-ups--the front line of energy technology movement--are starting to voice concern over how these companies are being financed.

The financial crisis is hurting green businesses, both small ones that need venture capital and more mature ones that need project financing. Without sufficient capital , many start-ups will have trouble bringing their technologies to market.

For more details and a list of some of the biggest stories in green tech this year, click here for my year in review.

 

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