Supporters are calling for the government to boost funding from about $4 billion a year now to $30 billion a year -- every year for the next few decades.
Barack Obama is halfway there. The presumed Democratic nominee wants to fund renewable energy to the tune of $15 billion a year for 10 years, paid for by auctioning off permits to companies that emit greenhouse gases.
John McCain also wants to issue permits to pollute in an effort to gradually reduce greenhouse gasses - a plan known as "cap-and-trade" - but he doesn't want to charge companies for them, at least not at first.
He also does not support a big government effort to fund renewables, instead relying on the greenhouse gas restrictions and lower corporate taxes to spur private sector investment.
Plenty of people agree with McCain, saying the government has no business in the renewable energy business and that the energy sources of tomorrow will be developed more quickly and efficiently if left up to the private sector.
NEXT: Getting serious about conservation