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A report to be released Wednesday by scholars at the Broolcings Institution andOakland’sBreakthrough Institute warns that federal spending on clean technolo­gies is drying up, with little sign of additional help com­ing from Congress.
As a result, more clean­tech companies are likely to go bankrupt or be consoli­dated, the study warns.
In 2009, federal spend­ing on renewable sources of energy reached an all-time high of $44 billion as one-time stimulus funding, known as the American Re­covery and Reinvestment Act, pumped additional millions into clean technolo­gies, according to the study, “Beyond Boom & Bust: Put­ting Clean Tech. on a Path to Subsidy Independence”.
But as the stimulus fund­ing and other policies wind down, federal spending dropped to $30.7 billion in 2011 and will fall to $16.1 bil­lion this year. By 2014, fed­eral spending on clean tech­nology is expected to be just $11 billion, amounting to a 75 percent drop in five years.
“We’re falling off the .cliff,” Mark Muro, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said in an in­terview in advance of the report’s release.
The federal wind energy Production Tax Credit, for example, which provides incentives for wind farms, is scheduled to expire at the end of this year. Wind de­velopers are racing to finish construction projects, and the uncertainty over the credit’s future has stalled many other projects in thepipeline. The wind industry is lobbying Congress to ex­tend the credit for another four years.
While California has ag­gressive renewable energy goals, including a law re­quiring state utilities to get 33 percent of. their electric­ity from: renewable sources by 2020, the lack of a na­tionwide energy policy’has created a boom-bust cycle that needs to be radically changed, the report says.
“Clean-energy policy in America is at a crossroads,” it says. “Federal support for cleantech is now poised to decline precipitously — un­less policymakers and in­dustry work together to en­act smart reforms that can ultimately free clean energy from subsidy dependence and put cleantech sectors
on a path to sustainable,
long-term growth.”
The waning federal in­vestment comes as clean technology market subsidies are being cut in Europe and as renewables face increas­ing competition from low-cost natural gas. Meanwhile, Wall Street has turned cool toward solar stocks.
Last week, Oakland-based BrightSource Energy, a developer of utility-scale solar power plants, can­celed its planned IPO due to tepid interest from inves­tors. Earlier this week, San Jose-based SunPower, Sili­con Valley’s dominant solar manufacturer, announced it was closing a factory in the Philippines in an effort to cut manufacturing costs. On Tuesday, Arizona-based FirstSolar said it would close its German factory, re­duce manufacturing in Ma­laysia and cut nearly a third of its global workforce.

Contact Dana Hull at 408-920-2706. Follow her at

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