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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The 2008 financial collapse did not take the renewables industry down with it — and in several ways it even proved a blessing.

The big picture: The 2009 stimulus law funneled some $90 billion into low-carbon energy initiatives, including grants for renewable electricity development in lieu of tax credits. Those grants proved vital. Longstanding tax credits are key to building wind and solar power projects, but the tax equity market collapsed alongside the financial sector.

The Treasury Department quickly launched the grant program, which eventually provided over $26 billion.

"Deployment would have slowed down dramatically because these companies would have had to seek other financing, and it would have been more expensive even if it was available."
— Keith Martin, project finance specialist with Norton Rose Fulbright

Other provisions that aided low-carbon energy included:

  • The stimulus expanded and helped finance the federal loan guarantee program for various clean energy projects.
  • Despite some flops (most famously the panel manufacturer Solyndra), the program helped launch utility-scale solar power generation.
  • It provided the first funding for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, which seeds R&D into next-wave tech and moves it toward commercialization.

Yes, but: The financial crisis wasn't bloodless for U.S. renewables. It was during this time that China grabbed the lead in solar manufacturing, venture capital veteran Stephan Dolezalek said. And VC financing dried up for building U.S. solar panel manufacturing plants.

“A lot of enthusiasm and momentum that had been built up in the venture community for solar took a substantial hit post-market crash. VC’s thereafter simply did not have the capital available at the scale of the factories they needed to fund."
— Stephan Dolezalek, venture capitalist

Another casualty of the financial crisis — and the collapse in oil prices — was availability of financing for companies to produce "advanced biofuels," which are more climate-friendly than traditional corn-based ethanol. These fuels have never scaled up the way Congress envisioned when it expanded the national biofuels mandate in 2007.

Go deeper

Updated 13 mins ago - Politics & Policy

New York AG alleges "significant evidence" of Trump Organization fraud

Combination images of former President Trump and New York State Attorney General Letitia James. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images; Scott Heins/Getty Images

New York's attorney general filed a motion Tuesday seeking to compel former President Trump and two of his children, Donald Trump, Jr. and Ivanka Trump, to appear for sworn testimony in her office's civil investigation into the Trump Organization's financial dealings.

Why it matters: Attorney General Letitia James revealed new details in the court filing and a statement on her office's investigation into the Trump Organization's business practices, including a preliminary finding alleging the company used "fraudulent and misleading asset valuations to obtain economic benefits."

2 hours ago - Technology

Ex-N.Y. Post digital chief files lawsuit alleging sexual harassment

Richard B. Levine) (Photo by Richard Levine/Corbis via Getty Images

Former New York Post editor Michelle Gotthelf is suing her former employer, its parent company News Corp. and two editors, alleging she was reprimanded after complaining to senior executives that she was sexually harassed by retired N.Y. Post editor-in-chief Col Allan. The N.Y. Post issued a statement denying any wrongdoing.

Why it matters: "I felt that I owed it to myself and I owed it to the news organization and the people who answered to me," Gotthelf, who was a long time editor at the N.Y. Post, told Axios in an interview.

Updated 2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Airlines warn of flight cancellations amid 5G rollout concerns

Emirates SkyCargo airline Boeing 777F aircraft. Photo: Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Emirates and Delta airlines announced Tuesday that the planned rollout of 5G services at certain American airports could affect flights.

Driving the news: AT&T and Verizon announced earlier Tuesday that they would delay this week's scheduled rollout of 5G signals near a limited number of airports due to continued concerns from the aviation industry.