Todd Woody, generally sympathetic with alternative fuels, notes that alternative fuels have been having a very bad couple of years:
The numbers are in on 2012 and it was not the best of years for renewable energy, according to a report released today by market research firm Clean Edge.
After years of breakneck growth, the value of global wind industry installations rose by just $2.3 billion from the previous year to $73.8 billion in 2012. Worldwide wind capacity jumped to a record 44,700 megawatts, but that was only about 8% up on the previous year.
The value of photovoltaic installations actually fell for the first time, from $91.6 billion in 2011 to $79.7 billion in 2012, as solar panel prices continued to plummet and Chinese manufacturers grappled with overcapacity. Total solar capacity hit a record 30,900 megawatts in 2012 but revenues fell for the first time in a dozen years.
Biofuels were the one bright spot, with the market growing to $95.2 billion in 2012 from $83 billion the previous year.
Generally speaking, “biofuels” is another way of saying “turning food into fuel”. In that context I’m not sure that “bright spot” is a good way of characterizing increased sales of biofuels.
Let’s tentatively file this story under the department of “Whatever Can’t Be Sustained Won’t”. Alternative energy benefited by enormous amounts of government subsidy from the United States, Germany, Spain, and China, just to name a few. When the subsidies dried up, there were no ready replacements waiting in the wings and they can’t stand on their own.
That might be possible some time in the future. But it doesn’t look very likely now.