One of the biggest obstacles to kick-starting the alternative-energy industries is cash. Funding pays for research and development of new and more efficient products, which makes the industries more cost competitive with traditional power sources. Without the money, it’s a proverbial Catch-22. No one wants to pay for a product that is costly and uncompetitive, but without that initial investment, the products have a much harder time breaking through.

The solution is simple, and thankfully for the proponents of alternative-energy industries, holders of the purse strings in government and the private sector are prepared to pony up the needed funds.

In Florida, for example, millions of dollars have been set aside for investment in businesses helping to advance the use of alternative power. In September, a state-sponsored program announced investment opportunities for businesses involved in renewable-energy and energy-efficiency technology. Operating on an initial infusion of $36 million, the so-called Clean Energy Investment Program is now accepting applications from qualifying Florida businesses for investments in three primary areas.

The first area covers facility and equipment improvements with energy-efficient and renewable-energy products. This includes upgrades, expansions, conversions or retrofits with renewable-energy or energy-efficient equipment or materials. The second area of investment focuses on the acquisition or demonstration of renewable--energy products, such as a business looking to acquire or upgrade a renewable-power system or a company seeking to demonstrate a new renewable--power or energy-efficient product. Third, businesses considering process improvements of existing production, manufacturing, assembly or distribution of operations to increase energy efficiency or reduce consumption will also be eligible for investments through the program.

The Florida Opportunity Fund, a state-sponsored effort, launched the Clean Energy Investment Program. The program received its initial funding from the Florida Energy and Climate Commission. The state also is looking to private investment to supplement those funds.