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The Crisis in Clean Energy

Stark Realities of the Renewables Craze

Courtesy Reuters

After years of staggering growth, the clean-energy industry is headed for a crisis. In most of the Western countries leading the industry, the public subsidies that have propelled it to 25 percent annual growth rates in recent years have now become politically unsustainable. Temporary government stimulus programs -- which in 2010 supplied one-fifth of the record investment in clean energy worldwide -- have merely delayed the bad news. Last year, after 20 years of growth, the number of new wind turbine installations dropped for the first time; in the United States, the figure fell by as much as half. The market value of leading clean-energy equipment manufacturing companies has plummeted and is poised to decline further as government support for the industry erodes.

The coming crisis could make some of the toughest foreign policy challenges facing the United States -- from energy insecurity to the trade deficit to global warming -- even more

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