Renewable energy is big business around the world. In fact, it is bigger business than building new fossil fuel generation capacity and by quite a bit.
Global investment in renewable energy soared in 2011, setting a new record of $257.5 billion and exceeding by $40 billion the amount invested in new fossil fuel capacity. http://www.worldwatch.org/continued-growth-renewable-energy-investments. Investment was up 17% from 2010, another strong year for renewable energy investments around the world, when $220 billion was put into new renewable energy projects.
Solar had an extraordinary year in 2011 when it attracted $147.4 billion; wind followed in second place at $83.8 billion. Biomass and biofuels attracted $10.6 billion and $6.8 billion respectively. Solar's global investment boom is driven by a price decline of about 50% in 2011.
China led the world with $52 billion of renewable energy investments and the US was second at $51 billion, during 2011. Uncertainty about the extent of future investments in the US has been created by conservative Republican attacks on renewable energy, with the issue of extending the Production Tax Credit for wind a flash point.
But global investment trends into renewable energy are so big that renewable energy's prospects for remaining a global economic powerhouse are bright, no matter the outcome of political battles within the US during 2012.