Pew report: U.S. drops to third in clean energy investment

The United States in 2010 slipped to third in the world in the amount of private capital invested in the clean energy sector, according to a recent report by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The U.S. saw $34 billion in private equity invested in the sector last year, a 51 percent jump from 2009, but China received $54.4 billion, increasing the lead it’s held over the U.S. since 2008. Germany last year passed the U.S. with $41.2 billion invested in clean energy.

“The United States’ position as a leading destination for clean energy investment is declining because its policy framework is weak and uncertain,” Pew Clean Energy Program Director Phyllis Cuttino said in a release.

“We are at risk of losing even more financing to countries like China, Germany and India, which have adopted strong policies such as renewable energy standards, carbon reduction targets and/or incentives for investment and production. In today’s global economic race, the United States can’t afford to be to be a follower in this sector.”

The new Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives – including Colorado’s four GOP lawmakers – has been systematically trying to dismantle U.S. Environmental Protection Agency clean air standards in recent weeks while simultaneously pushing for further deregulation of domestic fossil fuel production.

Calling EPA regulation of greenhouse gases a backdoor attempt at cap-and-trade, there’s a growing wave of climate change skepticism among Republicans and Tea Party newcomers. Even some moderate Republicans have warned such attitudes will further erode global investment in U.S. clean energy industries.

Michael Liebreich, CEO of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, pointed out the U.S. still leads in areas of innovation but is lagging in investment headed toward actual deployment of renewable energy.

“The United States remains the global leader in clean energy innovation, receiving 75 percent of all venture capital investment in the sector — a total of $6 billion in 2010,” Liebreich said in a release. “But the U.S. has not been creating demand for deployment of clean energy. As a result it is losing out on opportunities to attract investment, create manufacturing capabilities and spur job growth. For example, worldwide, China is now the leading manufacturer of wind turbines and solar panels.”

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