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60 Minutes Show On Cleantech Looks Like Its Going To Be “Dumb & Dumber Part 3” (+13 Charts)

Update January 7: the first two EV charts are now updated with final 2013 numbers.

cleantech deadNote: if you do nothing else, be sure to jump down to the bottom and take a look at the 13 cleantech charts 60 Minutes seems to have missed.

Granted, I haven’t watched the show yet (it hasn’t aired yet), but I just watched the horrible preview, and the title is “The Cleantech Crash.” Oy, someone hasn’t been reading CleanTechnica, or keeping up to date at all with what is actually happening in the world of cleantech.

I’ll start with some information that a representative of ACORE — who just informed me about the 60 minutes show — sent along (which actually happens to reference one of my articles):

60 Minutes thinks Clean Tech is dead. Here’s why they’re dead wrong:

#1: The government’s investment in clean tech was a success.

FACT: The Department of Energy Loan Guarantee Program actually has a 97% success rate.

  • Solyndra, Abound Solar and others represent just 3% of DOE’s entire portfolio. (Source: Department of Energy)

FACT: This past year, an estimated $13 billion was invested in solar projects in the US, a tenfold increase since 2007.

  • Solar stocks are up too – SolarCity is currently valued at approximately $4.9 billion. (Source: New York Times)

#2: America’s “Green Collar” jobs are thriving.

Fact: The DOE Loan Guarantee Program created over 55,000 direct jobs in everything from wind energy to biofuels to electric vehicles.

Fact: In Q3 of 2013, 80 new clean energy and clean transportation projects were announced, creating more than 15,000 jobs.

  • Renewable power generation was among the top sectors for job creation in Q3 of 2013. (Source: CleanEnergyWorks4Us)

#3: The U.S. is moving toward a clean energy future at record pace.

Fact: Renewables were the largest source of new US electricity capacity in 2012, providing over 49% of all new generation capacity.

  • Wind energy installations alone proved to be the largest single new generation technology in the U.S. in 2012, outpacing even natural gas. (Source: FERC)

Fact: From January to October of 2013, all-electric vehicle sales were up 448% year-on-year.

  • For 100% electric vehicles, 2013 saw 33,617 sales from Jan.-Oct. vs 6,135 during the same period in 2012. (Source: EVObsession)

& ON TWITTER: @EnergyFactCheck

Thanks to ACORE for the great pre-emptive, and for using one of my articles for that! (That would be the last article, on EV sales growth.)

Really, you have to be completely out of touch with what is happening in US and global cleantech markets in order to focus on the industry in the way 60 Minutes is doing so. Frankly, it’s depressing and makes me feel ashamed of American mass media. (Even more so than before.)

In addition to the great information shared by ACORE, I’m going to add a handful of charts below. Tell me if these cleantech industries look like they’re crashing to you. The first two charts are new ones that I just made based on the latest EV sales data. It will actually be updated tomorrow when Ford reports its December sales, but thanks to 60 Minutes, I’m creating nearly finalized versions a little bit prematurely.


Solar Power

CSI Solar Capacity Growth

Source: CPUC


Source: GTM Research

 Wind Power

world wind power 2012

Source: EPI, GWEC, Worldwatch

 Clean Energy Jobs

Massachusetts green job growth

Source: MassCEC

Man, I must be understanding something wrong. All of those charts indicate massive cleantech growth, yet 60 Minutes is talking about a cleantech crash… Am I confused? Am I dreaming? (er, having a nightmare.)

But hey, a few companies went out of business, and that never happens in young and fast-growing industries, right?

In all seriousness, the real cleantech crash is the crash in prices. I think this chart on the dropping price of solar PV panels captures that most beautifully:

price of solar power drop graph

Source: BNEF

Note that Solyndra, which it looks like 60 Minutes will be focusing on a bit, was a solar company with an alternative to conventional solar PV. It simply couldn’t compete with the dropping costs in the broader industry. But I guess 60 Minutes didn’t dig deep enough to figure that out. (Also note that the Solyndra story is a 2012 story!)

Solar power isn’t the only cleantech industry seeing a cost drop. We’re seeing similar drops in the price of wind turbines, EV batteries, and electric cars themselves. It’s really a simple story to cover — I can only imagine how/why 60 Minutes is screwing it up so badly.

Related Stories:

18 Fun Renewable Energy Charts From NREL Director Dan Arvizu & Ren21′s Renewables 2013 Global Status Report

3 Charts Showing Solar Power’s Wicked Growth

Electric Car Sales Up 300% In 2013 

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Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.


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