Investment in Clean Energy Exceeded Fossil Fuel Investment in 2008

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Biowanze's bio-ethanol complex in Wanze, Belgium, will use wheat and beet syrup as feedstock.In a sign of the growing importance of renewable sources of energy, global investment in wind power, solar power, and other alternative forms of energy last year exceeded investments in coal, oil, and carbon-based energy for the first time.

The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) reported that in 2008, 56 percent of all money invested in the energy sector went to green sources of power, with $140 billion in investments in renewable energy compared to $110 billion in fossil fuel technologies. Wind power attracted the most investment, with $51.8 billion worldwide, while investments in solar power rose 49 percent to $33.5 billion, UNEP reported. Investment in geothermal energy rose most rapidly, increasing 149 percent over 2007, to $2.2 billion. China drove much of the growth in investment in renewable sources, particularly in wind power.

Despite booming investment in green energy, the renewable sector still only accounts for 6.2 percent of total power generating capacity.

This article originally appeared on Yale Environment 360 at http://e360.yale.edu

[photo: flickr/fatboyke]

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    Another idea is to put a floor under the carbon price by creating a carbon central bank that could withdraw emissions allowances from the market if the price fell below a certain level and issue extra permits if it rose above a fixed ceiling.