Could the recent boom in U.S. renewable energy go bust?
That's what a recent report warns might happen given the state of current policy. Without a national energy policy providing certainty for renewable sources like wind and solar, the nascent industries could go bust after a few strong years as beneficiaries of the Obama administration's $90-billion injection of stimulus, suggests the report, conducted by researchers at the Brookings Institution and the World Resources and Breakthrough Institutes.
Indeed, renewable-energy policy at the federal level is lagging. The wind industry's production tax credit is set to expire at year's end, and a popular grant program for all types of renewable energy expired last year. Cognizant of this, President Obama last week called on Congress to renew the wind industry's incentive and a manufacturing tax credit created as part of the stimulus. But lawmakers don't seem poised to tackle comprehensive policy providing long-term incentives for renewable energy anytime soon, and any action on temporary tax credits probably won't happen until year's end.
And another recent report by the centrist Democratic think tank Third Way warns that without a national energy policy, the U.S. will lose any edge it has in the renewable-energy space to other countries like China and India that provide more stable federal support.
Is it too late to for certain parts of the renewable industry to recover from the repercussions of unstable federal policy? What should President Obama do right now to ensure renewable energy can survive after the one-time injection of stimulus money in 2009? What should Congress do in terms of long-term energy policy and both already-expired and soon-to-be expired tax incentives?