Characterizing the current boom as a "green energy gold rush," the United Nations announced this week that global investors funneled $148 billion into new wind, solar and other alternative energy projects last year. That's a 60 percent increase over the amount pumped into similar projects in 2006.
According to the U.N., wind energy projects drew 50 billion in new investments last year... up more than 40 percent from 2006 while solar power proved to be the fastest growing sector.
Most of the new money was invested in Europe, followed by the U.S. But interest is growing in Brazil, India and China.
Since the lion's share of alternative energy investment in America currently focuses on production of biofuels like ethanol, recent flooding was expected to be disastrous to corn production. But numbers released this week indicates U.S. farmers likely will harvest a sizable crop
Much of the catastrophic flooding that has devastated towns and farm fields in the Midwest appears to be over for now. The water has receded in much of the region leaving only clean-up and the sorting of lost dreams and material goods.
As water levels declined USDA officials prepared June's acreage report. Despite epic flooding in key growing states and scrambling to reassess the numbers it appears the damage may not have been as severe as previously believed.
According to the report, farmers planted 87.3 million acres of corn - nearly 7 percent fewer than last year. Nevertheless the decrease in the amount planted was still higher than the 86 million acres announced in the March report. Even with the weather-related losses, the figure will be the second highest acreage planted since 1946 and has the potential to be the second largest harvest since 1944.
As the window closed on replanting flooded fields many corn farmers switched to soybeans. Even with the swap, the amount being planted is expected to be only slightly lower than the amount announced in March. According to the numbers, farmers have planted 74.5 million acres of soybeans, which is 17 percent higher than last year. If everything comes to pass the amount will be 1 percent below the record crop in 2006. As of this week, only 79 percent of the intended acreage has been planted which is the lowest figure since 1996.
The report had bearish implications for both the corn and soybean markets. At the beginning of the holiday-shortened week the July corn futures contract settled limit-down in early trading. By weeks end both commodities had returned to pre-report levels.