Beyond Boom and Bust: Key Recommendations for a New Era of Clean Energy Policy - The recent gains made by clean tech sectors in the United States are shadowed by the looming collapse of federal subsidy support, which has been a powerful driver of expanding clean energy markets.
Not only was it foreseeable, many foresaw it and actively talked about it. But now the boom in stimulus spending in the United States has come to an end, and it coincides with a brutal fiscal hangover, bitter election-year partisanship and the looming lapse of subsidies for clean energy deployment. The result is a collapse in federal support for clean energy technologies at a time when the industry is struggling in the face of cheap natural gas and tough competition from China.
Most modern power plants have a hidden weakness. They need water to stay cool. Lots of water. In the United States, coal, gas and nuclear plants account for roughly 40 percent of the nation’s freshwater use, drawing from rivers and lakes to prevent their turbines from overheating. Yet this water could prove increasingly hard to come by. Over the next 50 years, if global warming proceeds apace, many rivers will get warmer or reduce their flow. That, in turn, forces many plants to shut down.