AOL Energy Week In Review

on June 24, 2011 at 5:45 PM

There is nothing quite like a face-to-face meeting.

With the Breaking Energy launch party, the Renewable Energy Finance Forum-Wall Street, the American Public Power Association annual conference in Washington, DC, and a GE Innovation Award celebration event this week was chock-full of opportunities for interaction.

For renewable energy entrepreneurs seeking funding and mature companies looking to be up on the latest trends, REFF Wall Street was prime time to connect with possible investors. Many of the country’s most prominent banks sent representatives to the conference to explain their renewable energy investment strategy and lay out forecasts for the industry’s diversification and growth.

Vice President of Environmental Finance at Wells Fargo, Brian Matthay, told the audience that his bank had already invested $500 million in solar development and was happy to invest more. The problem is not a lack of tax equity, he said, but solid, reliable projects to be financed.

“In the past five years we have probably met with over 150-200 solar developer and we’ve invested with about five or six of them,” Matthay said. “There are a lot of young developers in the market and the market has a lot of maturation yet to do.”

But, all seemed to agree that the still immature industry provides a lot of opportunity for growth, particularly in the United States.

America! America!

In a sometimes biting speech, former Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell told the conference that it was time for the American government to do something serious about energy.

Most important, Rendell said in his speech, was to wean American of its dependence on foreign oil, even if that meant using more nuclear power.

Former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman agreed with Rendell, in an exclusive interview with Breaking Energy, and said that nuclear power was essential for America’s future and should stay at its current levels of 20% of total electricity generation.

Rendell is not the only one uncomfortable with the nation’s dependence on foreign oil. In a move that sent shock waves through the industry, the International Energy Agency responded to disturbances in the oil market, much of it caused from continued conflict in Libya, by releasing 60 million barrels of crude oil from its reserves. The move has been painted as a form of economic stabilizing amid worrying overall growth figures, but presages a potential shift in the balances of power underpinning the global energy market.

For its part, the American military has continued reducing its consumption of energy.

Numbers Can Be Beautiful

An Breaking Energy infographic shows exactly how much renewable energy America is using, and how that compares to the rest of the world. Brazil’s harnessing of its massive rivers to create hydropower and its huge sugarcane fields for ethanol put it squarely in the top five global producers of renewable energy.

Breaking Energy editorial advisory council member Linda Blair of transmission firm ITC had some more sobering numbers about the aging transmission grid in her commentary on the White House’s Smart Grid plan.

Across the industry, the conversation continues on policy, investment and disruptive technologies – in person and online.

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