U.S. Clean Energy Effort Lags

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"As China and Germany surge ahead in the race for clean energy investment, the U.S. may be risking 'a gigantic economic opportunity.' Meanwhile, CEOs call for supportive U.S. policies."

China expanded its global lead in clean energy investments last year, and Germany surged ahead of the U.S. to take the No. 2 position.

The U.S. was No. 1 in 2008, according to this annual ranking by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

America's competitive position in the clean energy market could continue to slip unless the U.S. adopts stronger and more certain policies that encourage clean energy investments, according to Pew.

"There's just a gigantic economic opportunity that's at risk," said Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew's Clean Energy Program. "Congress and the administration have got to get their act together if we're going to seize the opportunity."

CEOs of 34 companies that are counting on Department of Energy loan guarantees to invest in renewable energy projects in the U.S. sent a letter to congressional leaders Tuesday pleading with them to reject the House's plan to end funding for the loans.

"We are deeply concerned that eliminating funding for this critical program will not only destroy thousands of pending jobs and hinder the growth of critically needed U.S. domestic energy product, but also defeat America's effort to compete with China, Germany and others in the clean technology marketplace," the CEOs' letter stated.

The good news for the U.S. is that American companies received 75 percent of all venture capital investment in renewable energy in 2010, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. As a result of this $6 billion in VC investments, the U.S. leads the world in clean energy innovation.

"But the U.S. has not been creating demand for deployment of clean energy," said Michael Liebreich, CEO of Bloomberg New Energy Finance. "As a result, it is losing out on opportunities to attract investment, create manufacturing capabilities and spur job growth."

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