Will greentech attract lots of green in the new year?

Folks with money expect the new regime under U.S. president-elect Barack Obama to encourage, perhaps even subsidize, greentech in the United States.
Written by Harry Fuller, Contributor

There's some indication that greentech firms are continuing to attract venture capital (VC) dollars. That means folks with money expect the new regime in Washington to encourage, perhaps even subsidize greentech in the United States.

SolFocus is one such company. The Mountain View company has concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) technology combining high-efficiency solar cells and advanced optics. SolFocus promises systems that are scalable, dependable and capable of delivering on the promise of clean, low-cost, renewable energy. It recently signed a deal to help develop the first-ever solar concentrator generating plant in Greece.

Where will the money go?
With hundreds of billions of dollars possibly to be spent on infrastructure and other job-producing programs by the Obama Administration, the cup-bearers are lining up.

This promises to be a classic Washington-style battle for bucks. Ethanol v. clean coal. Solar v. wind turbines. Highways v. mass transit. As with most compromises that roll through the nation’s capital, everybody's likely to get some piece of the pie and nobody will get everything they want...unless they happen to be a large bank.

Some lobbyists say there isn't necessarily a conflict between blue collar and green collar jobs. Most greentech start-ups are non-union. Apparently much of the money will funnel through state governments, meaning green-leaning states like Colorado and California will spend more on greentech. There might not be a lot of greentech spending in Oklahoma, West Virgnia, Wyoming and other places where the fossil fuel industry rules.

With unemployment now at the highest official level in 26 years, there'll be loud screams that any money in the federal stimulus plan has to have immediate job-creation potential. Not like the over US$300 billion that has already disappeared down the gullet of the big financials under TARP.

Now the talk in Washington D.C. is that the proposed stimulus plan in 2009 will be over US$800 billion. Who would not want just a modest gulp from that trough full of dollars?

The general media has noted the scientific expertise being assembled by U.S. president-elect Barack Obama on his administrative team, and they assume this means tough action on climate change. Two cabinet nominees in the Obama era are big ethanol supporters from the Corn Belt. With so much at stake: millions of jobs, billions of dollars, visibility and viability--2009 will be a crucial year for many sectors of greentech in the United States.

Somewhere in that US$800 or US$850 or US$900 billion, there may be money that will make winners of some greentech companies.

This article was first published as a blog post on ZDNet.com.

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