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Low-carbon energy hunt won’t deepen credit crisis

Investors in alternative energy are confident entrepreneurs will find ways to drum up finance without deepening the global credit crisis.

Many people fear that as many alternative, low-carbon energy sources are more expensive than gas and oil, developing them will add to the current economic problems, but investors say projects will be aided by private capital. “In clean technology I think there are 1,500 venture capital funds -- out of that something is going to happen which will fundamentally alter the corporate landscape,” said John Browne, a former CEO of oil major BP and now a managing partner at private equity firm Riverstone Holdings.

“There are many ways of doing that without creating a financial shock to the world,” Browne said at a renewable energy finance conference in London organized by the World Energy Council and the Financial Times. The failure of Lehman Brothers, the rushed sale of Merrill Lynch and the US government bailout of AIG this week have all added pressure on the global economy.

However, governments, which are leading the hunt for energy alternatives, remain deeply concerned with energy security and climate change. Recent issues have been Russia’s conflict with oil-transit country Georgia and the rapid melting of Arctic sea ice, which scientists say is at its second-lowest recorded level.

Energy prices will remain volatile and energy security will stay at the he top of the political agenda, said Browne. Browne said he expected energy efficiency technologies to be “central” to efforts to fight climate change and would be led by government policies, such as carbon pricing. (Reuters)