– Paul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

paul-taylorInvestors in clean energy are like motorists stuck at broken traffic lights. The public policy light is green but the price and credit lights are deep red.

Investment in wind, wave and solar power should be booming after the European Union last year adopted an ambitious goal to draw 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 to help fight global warming, and U.S. President Barack Obama made green power a central plank of his government’s policy.

But the credit crunch, economic recession, the spectacular fall in oil prices since last July and a record low European carbon price have cooled investors’ ardour.

Consultants New Energy Finance forecast zero investment growth in climate-related companies this year, after a spectacular growth rate of 60 percent in 2006-7.