UN says money grows on trees

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GREEN ENERGY IS apparently worth its weight in gold according to a new UN report which claims that, as oil prices continue to rise, big profits are to be made in going green.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) study said that the wind has finally filled renewable energy’s sails, with a whopping 60 per cent investment hike in 2007 alone.

This represents US$148 billion in the clean energy kitty, as companies clamber over each other to provide the world with solar, wind and biofuel energy as cheaper, alternatives to oil. Of course concern for the environment comes in there somewhere too, but lower down the list.

Executive Director of UNEP, Achim Steiner blathered, "What is unfolding is nothing less than a fundamental transformation of the world's energy infrastructure."

In green terms (and by green, we mean the dominant colour on the US dollar), it would appear the winds of change are finally blowing for the wind energy industry, having sucked in no less than $50.2 billion last year.

The report also noted that solar power was seeing astronomical growth with some US$28.6 billion in new capital and an average annual growth rate of 254 per cent since 2004.

The only 'loser' of the bunch seems to be poor old biofuel, which saw its investment biodegrade to a paltry US$2.1 billion last year, a third of its former natural glory.

China, India and Brazil are reportedly the new hot spots for eco energy investment, seeing investment cash flood in at an increase of 12 per cent in the last four years, from US$1.8 billion to US$26 billion. Currently, those three nations alone account for almost 25 per cent of all new investment in green energy.

Another interesting finding from the UNEP report was that 23 per cent of all the brand new power capacity worldwide last year was made up of sustainable energy (whereas nuclear was only about two per cent). The report also notes that biomass and geothermal power are apparently the ones to watch in the near future.

There was even a kind word thrown in for Africa which, despite being singled out for trailing the rest of the world when it comes to sustainable energy (as if that was the worst of its problems), was also lauded for managing to pull in US$1.3 billion in clean energy financing, a whopping five times more than last year.
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