Being “green” is something which most of us want to do and almost everyone will agree that the government should be taking the lead when it comes to ensuring the US takes a greener path. The government has set carbon reduction targets – very ambitious ones – and appears to have been getting on with the job of encouraging us all to use less energy and to be more carbon conscious.
But the economic problems which have hit most of the western world are slowly starting to have an effect on our resolve to be as green as we can. We are losing subsidies, getting lower tariffs for renewables and certain green sectors are being pushed to the edge financially. However on the other hand, consumers are naturally using less energy in a bid to save money and are often opting for greener technologies because they are actually cheaper.
John is the CEO of Find Energy Savings
The government recently cut the tariffs they are offering on solar panels. Clearly this is bad news for the solar industry in the US and for those consumers who would have liked to have taken advantage of the scheme. Experts have suggested that this cut will lead to fewer jobs in the sector and less investment in the US from overseas solar companies.
The government has turned its attentions to other technologies which it believes will have a longer term impact both on the environment and on the nation’s pockets. This includes nuclear power, wind farms and local gas sources. It could easily be argued that those job losses from the solar sector could be outweighed by the increased investment in these areas.
Then there are the consumers. The fact is that energy prices will increase regardless of what we do. The industry is steered by six main companies and the competition in the sector is low. Keeping this in mind many consumers are now searching for alternatives and it may be this increased interest which keeps the renewable sector alive.
The cost of renewables is dropping as the technology is improved. This means that the average homeowner can now invest in products which may have been out of their reach a few years ago. This includes insulation, solar panels, wind turbines, biomass boilers and air or ground source pumps. Buoyed by the government subsidies and tariffs, these renewable sources of energy are now becoming commonplace. The average consumer is also increasingly educated about what they can do to save energy.
So the financial problems of the US are not necessarily a bad thing for the green economy. Yes, some companies may not make it and others will need to adjust their focus. But the government is pushing the use of certain products – it cannot promote all of them – by offering incentives where possible. The public are picking up on this and making changes to their homes which the green economy can take advantage of.
The green economy just needs to keep moving with the whims of the government and the needs of the public. The government just needs to make up its mind and offer some stability within the industry.