On Sunday, 60 Minutes concluded that we've seen a clean tech crash, but from where I sit, I see a thriving clean energy market. Clean tech is on the rise, lowering power bills, creating jobs, and helping us combat the threat of global climate change.
Here are some facts about clean tech in the United States that aren't quite as grim as the ones shown on 60 Minutes:
See the Solar Forest For the Solar Trees
Solar energy has gotten a bad rap from some obsessed with Solyndra, but the truth is that the number of solar installations is skyrocketing as costs have plummeted.
Since 2008, the price of solar panels has fallen by 75 percent, and solar installations have multiplied tenfold. Many major homebuilders are incorporating rooftop panels as a standard feature on new homes, according to a Department of Energy (DOE) clean energy report.
While states like California may come to mind when you think about solar energy, my home state of New Jersey is a prime example of this boom. We've had around 24,000 industrial, commercial, academic, and residential solar installations, and rank third in the nation in capacity installed and ahead of California in terms of per capita solar capacity.
Job growth is the cornerstone of our economic recovery, and the clean energy industry is an asset, not a detriment, in this regard.
In New Jersey, we now have over 81,000 green jobs -- and this is an area where there is tremendous growth potential.
Plus, the DOE Loan Guarantee Program that was referenced in the 60 Minutes piece has created over 55,000 direct clean energy jobs and the program also has a 97 percent success rate.
Let's Tackle Climate Change
Lastly, when we talk about clean energy, we must always consider the economic and environmental impacts, which 60 Minutes neglected to do.
In New Jersey we have been experiencing ongoing devastation since Superstorm Sandy last year and that massive storm -- and the possibility of even more devastating storms in the future - clearly demonstrates the urgency of focusing on climate change and continuing to move toward renewable resources.
We must transition from a fossil fueled economy to one powered by clean, renewable energy if we are to avert the worst consequences of climate change and the sooner we make that transition, the cheaper it will be. While some may want to demonize investments in renewable energy, the fact of the matter is that these investments are much smaller than the half a trillion dollars in subsidies the fossil fuel industries enjoy each year, subsidies I hope we may one day have the political courage to eliminate.
So, far from a clean tech crash, we are witnessing a clean tech revolution, and for the sake of our children and grandchildren we should all hope the revolution is successful.
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