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Is rebuilding America's Energy Grid its Next Big Gig?

America’s economy was powered by personal computers in the eighties, the Internet in the nineties, and credit cards and subprime loans in this decade. So what is America’s next gig? I think conversion of the global energy grid to alternative sources is the best candidate. If you took this out of the realm of geeky engineering graduate students and high school science projects and made this a national priority and a defense issue, it could become a major GDP driver for decades. Using the broadest possible definitions, the number of green jobs could grow from one million today to 37 million in 20 years, or 17% of the total work force. Since many of these jobs are in local construction and installation they can’t be exported. Last year, 8,000 megawatts of wind power was built, the equivalent of seven large coal fired plants, accounting for 42% of all new power generation. If the US develops cost competitive clean energy while China is still stuck using the expensive dirty stuff, it will have a competitive advantage that could reverse the terms of trade with the Middle Kingdom. The US would also have superior technology that it could sell to the rest of the world. I can tell you that green energy is one of the few themes that gets a hearing with venture capitalists these days, and this will be a major stock market driver down the road. I know this is all long term stuff, but remember buying Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) at $4 in the early eighties?