Federal Stimulus and Cleantech Infrastructure

No doubt, cleantech companies were upbeat when the White House stimulus package allocated 13 percent of the total $104 billion stimulus package for green technology. Much of the economic stimulus will flow to cleantech infrastructure, but exactly where will it go?
Cleantech sectors, which were big winners, include smart grid technology with $4.5 billion, energy efficiency for federal buildings with $4.5 billion and wind and solar with $6 billion for new loan guarantees.
It’s an unheard of sum for cleantech. And a recent survey of technology experts by Changewave Research sheds some light on where the impact will be felt most. Changewave surveyed 409 members of the Changewave Research Network, people who work for companies involved in infrastructure projects. The March 12-17 survey covered infrastructure spending in the transportation, electricity/smart grid and broadband sectors. But for this blog I’m going to focus on the results for the smart grid.

Industry respondents were asked which infrastructure areas they think will benefit most from the U.S. economic stimulus package in the next 12 months. Not surprisingly, transportation infrastructure (62 percent) was the winner, followed by alternative energy (44 percent). Electricity/smart grid (29 percent) and water infrastructure (11 percent) also stood out.
In terms of outlook on areas expected to experience the most growth over the next 12 months, electric powerline projects were viewed by surveyed experts as being strong, accounting for 36 percent of the growth. Control systems like generators, switches and circuit breakers registered only 22 percent. On the smart grid side, the investment in smart meters or meter infrastructure registered 37 percent.
What are the companies most likely to benefit from the uptick in spending on the electric grid infrastructure? The survey identifies General Electric and Siemens AG as well-positioned grid infrastructure suppliers. ABB and EMCOR are seen as the prime beneficiaries in the area of powerline infrastructure.
How about the downsides? Those surveyed indicated the biggest barrier to the upgrading of the electric power grid as not-in-my-backyard issues (NIMBY, 43 percent). The other barriers cited included too much bureaucracy (41 percent) and not enough funding (37 percent).
Those barriers will be challenging but the need for an overhaul to the 40-year-old infrastructure is long overdue. –Lee Bruno

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