From energy-efficient lightbulbs and electric cars to giant wind turbine farms and gadgets that make your home a little smarter, the young green-technology industry has quickly become the most talked-about tech sector since Marc Andreessen created a Web browser that sparked the dot-com boom. But as we learned in the dot-com bust, not every company is built to last.
Facing the worst economic conditions since World War II, the green-tech industry is heading for a make-or-break period in which perhaps only the well-funded, the most innovative, and the most politically connected will survive.
In this three-day special report, CNET News will examine how green-tech businesses are coping with the recession while, in many cases, pining for green-tech dollars in the Obama stimulus package. Focusing on the most active corner of the green-tech industry--the way the country generates and receives electricity--we'll identify the most promising technologies and most challenging hurdles.
The question isn't whether the green-tech movement will whither away, of course. Already, there is a growing consumer niche for green technologies, from rooftop solar panels to low-power consumer electronics made from recycled materials.
But how big can this industry be, how long will it take to get there, and who will lead the way?
Day 1: In search of the Google of green tech
In a tough economy, the companies that look a little like a high-tech outfit may be the big winners.
Day 2: They got their green-tech bill. So now what?
The industry is in for the stimulus of a lifetime. But proponents also know the risks of a bureaucratic boondoggle.
Day 3: Making solar cheaper than coal
Start-up 1366 Technologies wants to transform the energy business one solar cell at a time. Can it make renewable energy cheaper than fossil fuels?
Podcast: Green-tech companies adapt
Martin LaMonica explains how green-tech start-ups are changing their business models to adapt to the recession and what Obama means for the sector.
Podcast: E-waste looms behind boom
Without green chemistry practices, toxics coalition warns, rapid growth in the solar industry could lead to a legacy of e-waste like in the electronics industry.
Video: Schwarzenegger's green goals
California's governor believes that "guilt trip environmentalism" has failed. He is striving to make certain technologies more environmentally friendly.
Photos: Electric vehicles, now and later
While consumers wait for a mass-market electric auto, carmakers show off vehicles under development and those already being used.
Video: 2009 Tesla Roadster
The electric car is real. How does it shoulder all the hype?
Photos: Batteries charge up GE
At its research labs, GE shows off some of its projects developing better batteries for electric cars and buses, and the tech that will power electricity grid storage.
Photos: Chasing a solar revolution
A look inside a pilot solar-cell facility where Boston-area start-up 1366 Technologies is chipping away at the cost of solar power.
Photos: Solar business heats up Calif.
The solar industry's annual conference in San Diego illuminates the diversity of technologies for solar-power plants, commercial roofs, or homes.
Photos: Making of an ethanol superbug
CNET News explores the labs of Mascoma, a biotech company seeking a breakthrough in ethanol production by engineering the perfect microbe.
Video: Hydrogen Road Tour revs engines
See the first day, on which a caravan of fuel cell cars are on display, and the first hydrogen filling station in Massachusetts officially opens.
Photos: Peering into energy's future
Organizations from around the world show off alternatives to fossil fuels at the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference.
New grid for renewable energy could be costly
The Wall Street Journal
Electronomics: How the smart grid will power wealth, pt. III
A $2 trillion bet on powering America
How will the recession affect clean technology?
The New York Times
Editors: Jim Kerstetter, Zoë Slocum
Design: Ellen Ng
Production: April Fultz