Why Are Investors Bearish on Clean Energy?


I called my friend, clean energy finance expert Bill Paul for some advice the other day. “I have a client with a breakthrough in battery chemistry, and I’m trying to find them a manufacturing partner in the electric vehicles space. Where do you think I should look?” I asked.

By the word “where,” what I meant was “At what companies?” But what I got from Bill was this: “My first suggestion is that you forget everyone and everything in the United States.” He went on, “There’s no money here. More correctly, there’s plenty of money, but it’s not moving. It’s sitting on the sidelines — two trillion dollars of it. Check out Europe. They have their own issues, of course, but at least they’re making investments, and not just sitting around watching the rest of the world fly past them.”

That’s sobering, isn’t it? What are we doing here that’s so dramatically wrong?

My answer, simplistic as it may be, is that our leaders in government have investors terrified. I am completely sympathetic to someone with money, who looks at the political scene and says to himself, “Next year, the U.S. could elect a president whose mission will be to roll back decades of progress the country has made in protecting its environment. His campaign platform calls for a near-total dismantling of the EPA, and, if elected, he’ll spend four years doing his damnedest to remove the last vestiges of regulation, enabling private enterprise to do whatever it wants regardless of the ecological consequences. Let’s see here…. how much money would I be smart to have invested in clean energy when the national interest in this subject goes from “tentative’ to ‘zero?’”

I’d be interested in your viewpoints.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

1 Comment

  1. Investment in Alternative energy will remain limited until everyone knows the real costs involved.

    All the economics of processes and manufacturing at present are distorted by huge grants, subsidies and the huge amount of pollution end environmental controls, and not to mention all the moral and ethical regulations governing labour employment.

    The playing-field that everyone is playing on in the alternative energy market is so distorted by all these issues and until a simpler, more equal and fair way of applying incentives , no real way forward will occur , as it will be continually tripped up by the real distortion caused by the highly complex system we have in place at present.

    We need a transparent and equal system of redistributing wealth and one based on the protection and sustainability of resources.

    Achieving this is very difficult and will require a whole new mind set change on behalf of the governments, businesses, and inderviduals, This I am convinced must come from the ground up wards , but it is the governments that must change the ground rules , especially in taxation, welfare, research and patents.