NEW YORK High oil prices and growing concerns about the environment may drive more than $7 trillion of new investment in so-called clean energy technologies by 2030, an energy research group says.
Public pressure and private investment dollars are combining to bring clean energy technologies defined as energy sources that are low in carbon emissions from the fringes of the energy industry to its center, said Cambridge Energy Research Associates, or CERA, in a new report.
"We are seeing a major shift in public opinion," said Daniel Yergin, CERA's chairman. "This is providing a vital impetus that is moving clean technology across the great divide of cost, proven results, scale and maturity that has separated it from markets served by mainstream technologies."
Among renewable sources, wind power is poised to make the greatest gains, followed by solar power and biofuels, CERA said. But nuclear and hydroelectric generation will attract almost half of the $7 trillion, CERA said.
In addition to oil and natural-gas prices, government policies that subsidize clean energy, put a price on carbon emissions or mandate reductions in pollutants or the use of renewable energy are also key drivers of the shift, CERA said.
The research firm identified a number of new clean energy technologies that show promise. They include geothermal plants, which would generate energy by tapping heat from deep in the earth; ocean generation plants, which would use wave or tidal power to generate electricity; and concentrating solar power, where the sun's rays are focused to create steam-powered electricity.