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Will State Lead Nation in 'Clean Tech'?


By Andrew Beebe and Jon Slangerup
The San Diego Union-Tribune
May 19, 2006


The next technology wave is headed for California, and this time it
is green. California has benefited from technology boom cycles in
the past, but none holds as much promise for the planet, people and
the economy as “clean tech.”

We're building the next wave based on clean, affordable renewable
power produced from free sources such as the sun and wind. Like all
new sources of power generation, clean energy must be supported by
smart policies. One smart policy is the Global Warming Solutions Act
(AB 32) that is now making its way through the Legislature.

And as usual, the money trail tells the future. Let's face it –
venture capitalists are not missionaries, but they can often find
the visionaries. They see big promise in an emerging “new energy
economy” being incubated in California. That's why venture capital
firms such as Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, New Enterprise
Associates and Mohr Davidow Ventures are pouring money into solar,
fuel cells and other clean technology.

And that's why CEOs from Sun Microsystems and Google and from
leading venture capitalists are behind market-based solutions to
curb our greenhouse gas emissions. Such solutions would not only
limit the greenhouse gas pollution that threatens California's
economy and climate – but they also offer an exponential return on investments.

Passage of clean energy standards such as the Kyoto Protocol coupled
with skyrocketing oil and gas prices have caused “Google-like
growth” in Europe's clean-tech market. According to research firm
Clean Edge, the global market for clean energy sources is expected
to increase to $167 billion by 2015. Solar alone is now similar in
size to Internet advertising ($10 billion last year) – and growing
at a faster rate (40 percent last year).

Already, Germany and Japan have surpassed the United States in their
demand for solar panels. Here in the United States, where we
invented the solar cell more than 50 years ago, it's time we take on
our leadership role in this powerful marketplace. Californians are
tired of being hijacked by the high price of gasoline and our
dependence on dirty energy produced outside our state.

Now we have the opportunity to deliver clean energy produced right
here at home. Renewable power has the potential to make up a growing
portion of the entire energy market. Entrepreneurs and venture
capitalists have made this early phase of research and development
happen, but there's a missing piece. In order to cross the chasm to
market growth and maturity, we need clear signals from the market,
most of which is regulated by the state, that there is willingness
to go the distance.

Let's give the regulatory support needed to unleash another hotbed
of innovation and technology right here at home. A cap on greenhouse
gas pollution provided by AB 32 would create a demand for clean
energy supplies, provide California a competitive edge in the
emerging clean tech market, and protect the valuable natural and
public health assets of the Golden State.

By setting a firm cap, government can ensure a level playing field
for all competitors, make clear that the costs to California and our
planet of global warming pollution are internalized in business
decisions, and then step out of the way to let the market work. And
investments in efficiency and renewable energy will provide more
than twice as many California jobs as investments in fossil
fuel-fired power plants.

Today, the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla will host a State
Climate Action Team “summit” to discuss solutions for global warming
pollution in California. Business leaders like ourselves stand
firmly in support of unleashing a new energy economy in California
through the Global Warming Solutions Act. Currently, the cost of
most renewables is higher than fossil fuels, but with strong
regulatory support, we can make renewables cost-effective now.

Beebe is president of energy innovations, a venture-funded
technology startup in Pasadena. Slangerup is chief executive officer
of Solar Integrated in Los Angeles.

 

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