Cleantech A Beacon In The California Gloom

Christina Ann VanMeter/CC BY-ND 2.0

According to the 2012 California Green Innovation Index, compiled by Next 10, the state’s investment in the clean technology is doing more than innovation. It's also helping California grow its economy and cut emissions after one of the worst recessions in history devastated the housing sector and reduced the real estate tax base of almost every city and county.

The statistics don’t lie. Assembled by Next 10, a nonprofit vested in informational assessments focusing on California’s environment, economy and way of life, the state is clearly leading the pack in terms of venture capital commitment, clean tech patent filings, energy productivity and, most notably, renewable energy generation. In fact, the compilation of data (by Collaborative Economics) shows that, from 2010 to 2011, California was ahead in cleantech investment by 24 percent (representing $3.5 billion), and in 2010 account for one-quarter of total U.S. green patent activity.

Renewable energy generation in California set a new record in 2010, representing 13.7 percent of the state’s generation portfolio, Next 10 said, and by this year the state was reporting it three big investor-owned utilities together hit the 17 percent mark in renewables. The state in 2011 garnered 62 percent of total global VC funds aimed at solar, in spite of the negative influence of the Solyndra failure. The state also saw patent filings doubling in 2010 (over 2009), for a total of 105.

More important, the report shows the state passing the 1,000-megawatt (MW) mark in energy generation via solar technologies, which firmly establishes it among top solar countries around the globe (where it, you know, a country). In fact, from 2005 to 2010, California licensed 1,503 new solar firms and saw employment in that sector jump 166 percent. Other highlights of the report show that California’s emissions graphed a steady reduction, down 28 percent from 1990 based on GDP, and its energy productivity (energy inputs to GDP outputs) is 64 percent higher than any other state. As Doug Henton, Chair and CEO of Collaborative Economics noted, California – by setting the market rather than chasing it – is now reaping the rewards.

Tags: Technology

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