Greenbacks for green tech

The next bubble looks green from here.

By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor

No one spends more on green technology than the federal government.

“The way to put this in context is,” Tim Newell, managing director at Merriman, Curhan, Ford and Company tells FederalNewsRadio, “is that the entire worldwide market for investments in clean technology and renewable energies last year was somewhere between $150 billion and $175 billion dollars, and the stimulus package that was passed and signed by the President included $140 billion dollars, ultimately in spending, for renewables and clean technology. So essentially, the U.S. government is matching the entire worldwide investment in this space from the year before.”

Newell says the companies benefiting from the stimulus are diverse.

Those are going to range from companies like GE, quite large companies that are really in the business of deploying these technologies, down to the very newest start ups, and a lot of the spending is targeted, particularly the spending that’s coming through research grants and loan guarantees, that is targeted toward companies that are developing and deploying new innovative technologies.

But don’t expect the money to refloat the technology bubble.

IT is one of the areas, but it really is just one of the areas that are out there. You’re going to see a lot of emphasis on renewable energy generation, so deploying new facilities to do solar and wind and geothermal and biomass. And you’re going to see a lot of emphasis on efficiency.

As for how the stimulus money will enter the economy, Newell says to look for it in two ways.

About half of the bill is really taken up by tax credits: production tax credits and investment tax credits. And those happen just by being applied across the board – across the range of investments. But about half the spending is really directed by the federal government, either in terms of loan guarantees or research grants… and in that case, there’s a little bit of unknown territory. …Something at this scale is not something that the Department of Energy has done before, and so the biggest news is that the federal government is now the largest investor in this space, but it’s also the biggest challenge that the federal government is now the largest investor in this space.

The largest, yes, but Newell says certainly not the only.

“This is a business where what you know happens every day is that the world changes every day.”

On the Web:

In Depth – Changing Things at the Energy Department

San Jose Mercury News – Team Obama wants to pursue high-risk, high-reward initiatives on energy

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