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Green Business Is One of Few Bright Spots


By Kent Bernhard, Jr.
National Green News
October 10, 2008


If you're looking for a few bright spots amidst the gloom, you've come to the
right place.

While the overall economic picture is grim and seems to get grimmer by the day,
the past couple of weeks have brought good news for green business.

Congress finally passed a package of tax credits for renewable energy. Having
failed nine times to reach an agreement with budget hawks in the House on how to
pay for the credits, Senators finally just attached them to the must-pass $700
billion Wall Street bailout bill. The tactic worked, saving the incentives most
see as essential to keeping the boom in wind and solar projects going.

While the tax credits are good for immediate projects, a couple reports show
investors aren't shy about betting on the future of green business.

Cleantech and Greentech Media both put out reports showing venture capital
flowing to green business in the third quarter at a rate north of $2.5 billion.
Cleantech's venture capital trackers found cleantech investments in North
America, Europe, China and India increased 17 percent between the second and
third quarters on this year to a record $2.6 billion. The report said money
invested in 158 companies increased 37 percent compared to the same quarter last
year. Greentech Media reports investment in green energy technologies exceeded
$2.8 billion in the third quarter of 2008, far exceeding any previous quarter on
record.

Whichever group of numbers you focus on, the news is good for green
entrepreneurs. At least through the third quarter, the dollars were out there
and they were flowing in record amounts to renewable energy and other cleantech
companies.

And companies with plans to revolutionize energy markets aren't shy about
sticking their hands out. LS9 Inc., aiming to start large-scale production of
bio-oil, has hired a new CEO, Bill Haywood, who wants to raise $75 million to
$100 million by the end of 2010 for a demonstration plant. Greentech Media
reports the company had hitherto been more low key, but is shifting strategy.

Across the pond, French firms Renault and the utility EDF announced they will
develop the infrastructure necessary for widespread use of electric cars. The
goal, Earth2Tech reports, is to make electric cars an attractive alternative by
2011.

Despite all the good news, green tech companies aren't immune to market
meltdowns. Schott Solar, the German thin-film solar maker, is backing away from
its planned IPO, citing "dramatic deterioration in international capital market
conditions," Greentech Media reports. The depressing thing is, "dramatic
deterioration" may be an understatement.

And American Public Media's Marketplace reports the good times for green could
be coming to a halt thanks to economic concerns.

Readers of bizjournals green don't agree. In our latest poll, we asked if the
financial meltdown would stop the momentum of green businesses. So far, 66
percent of those who have responded think there was too much momentum for the
meltdown to stop the green business movement, while only 34 percent thought
green businesses would suffer like everyone else.

 

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