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Steady as it goes for renewable energy

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Steady as it goes for renewable energy
Decreasing energy prices, particularly for oil, might be a stepping stone to shrinking interest in renewable energy, but not so, according to this piece from the Financial Post, which takes a look at the topic from a broader, less farm-intense persective.


November 26, 2008
By The Financial Post/National Post

The dramatic slide in oil prices has caused many to speculate that renewable energy has gone from the "next big thing" to the latest "has been." But renewable energy retailers tell a different story. The alternative energy market, they say, has been growing steadily since the start of the decade and it is not about to stop.

Kevin Pegg, president of retailer and project developer EA Energy Alternatives Ltd. in Victoria, has noticed "a dramatic shift" in the market since he first entered the industry 16 years ago. Back then, people would stare at him blank faced when he spoke of a solar panel. But since 2000, he says, wind, solar and hydro have become household names.

"It's been fairly constant growth over the last eight years for us," Mr. Pegg says, adding that growth had kept within about a five-point spread. He says about half of his business' revenue came from walk-in customers looking for energy solutions for their cottage or farm, while the other half came from large-scale remote projects, such as wilderness resorts or mining camps.

While he is not expecting any sudden boom in demand, he says the current period is "a very positive time for the industry," even accounting for the economic slowdown and nosedive in oil prices to below US$50 a barrel. That is because the fundamentals for growth have not changed. And contrary to popular belief, the advance in renewable energy had not been driven by the spike in oil prices earlier in the year, to US$147 a barrel.

"We had a real spike in inquiries [when oil rose], but that spike did not translate into sales because the type of person that is in a reactive manner to the cost of gasoline or diesel fuel is looking for a quick fix to a very large and complex problem," he says.

To see more of this story, go to: www.nationalpost.com/todays_paper/story.html?id=995156