The Clean Tech Revolution

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The Clean Tech Revolution: The Next Big Growth and Investment Opportunity, is a 2007 book by Ron Pernick and Clint Wilder, who argue that commercializing clean technologies is a profitable enterprise that is moving steadily into mainstream business. As the world economy faces challenges from high energy prices, resource shortages, global environmental problems, and security threats, clean technologies are seen to be the next engine of economic growth.[1]

Pernick and Wilder highlight eight major clean technology sectors: solar power, wind power, biofuels, green buildings, personal transportation, the smart grid, mobile applications (such as portable fuel cells), and water filtration.[2] Very large corporations such as GE, Toyota and Sharp, and investment firms such as Goldman Sachs are making multi-billion dollar investments in clean technology.[1]

Monocrystalline solar cell


[edit] Authors

Author Ron Pernick is co-founder and principal of Clean Edge, a research and strategy firm in the USA which focuses on the commercialization of renewable energy and other clean technologies. Pernick was named one of "50 most influential men under the age of 42" in the October 2006 issue of Details magazine. Clint Wilder is contributing editor at Clean Edge, and a veteran business and technology journalist who won the 2002 American Society of Business Publications Editors award for best feature series. Both authors have been mapping clean technology trends for many years, and identifying business opportunities for prospective investors.[3]

[edit] History of clean tech

Pernick and Wilder explain that, in the 1970s, clean technology was considered “alternative,” the province of back-to-the-land lifestyle advocates, altruistic environmentalists, and lab scientists on research grants. Such technology was in an early stage of development, was too expensive, it did not have widespread political support, and very few large, established companies were embracing the sector. Even at the start of the 21st century, the term clean tech was not yet in the financial or business community’s vocabulary. But now, throughout much of the world, in trends large and small, there is "the beginning of a revolution that is changing the places where we live and work, the products we manufacture and purchase, and the development plans of cities, regional governments, and nations around the globe."[4]

[edit] Clean technology trends

Vestas V80 wind turbines

Pernick and Wilder define "clean tech" as "any product, service, or process that delivers value using limited or zero non-renewable resources and/or creates significantly less waste than conventional offerings."[2] They highlight eight major clean technology sectors: solar power, wind power, biofuels, green buildings, personal transportation, the smart grid, mobile applications, and water filtration.[2] The authors explain how investors, entrepreneurs, and individuals can profit from technological innovation in these areas. Pernick and Wilder identify some specific clean technologies, companies, and regions that are leading the way.[5]

The book also explains that nuclear power and clean coal are not clean technologies. Apart from the risks associated with nuclear power, "multibillion-dollar nuclear plants are simply not cost-effective when compared with other energy sources."[6] The authors also believe that clean coal is an oxymoron for a myriad of reasons, including the sheer number of coal mine-related deaths and the fact that coal-fired plants, even some cleaner ones, are major contributors to serious illnesses such as asthma, heart disease, and mercury poisoning.[7]

Emerging clean tech cities are seen to include Copenhagen, where wind power generates 20 percent of Denmark's electricity, and Chicago, a leader in "green" buildings saving energy, heating and cooling costs.[2]

[edit] Six C's

Pernick and Wilder identify six major forces, which they call the six C’s, that are pushing clean technology into the mainstream and driving rapid growth and expansion: costs, capital, competition, China, consumers, and climate.[8]

  • Costs. "Perhaps the most powerful force driving today’s clean-tech growth is simple economics. As a general trend, clean-energy costs are falling as the costs of fossil fuel energy are going up. The future of clean tech is going to be, in many ways, about scaling up manufacturing and driving down costs."
  • Capital. "An unprecedented influx of capital is changing the cleantech landscape, with billions of dollars, euros, yen, and yuan pouring in from a myriad of public and private sector sources."
  • Competition. "Governments are competing aggressively in the highstakes race to dominate in the clean-tech sector and build the jobs of the future."
  • China. "Clean tech is being driven by the inexorable demands being placed on the earth not only by mature economies but also by the explosive demand for resources in China, India, and other developing nations. Their expanding energy needs are driving major growth in clean-energy, transportation, building, and water-delivery technologies." (See also, Renewable energy in China.)
  • Consumers. "Savvy consumers are demanding cleaner products and services that use resources efficiently, reduce costs, and embrace quality over quantity."
  • Climate. "The debate around climate change has gone from question mark to peer-reviewed certainty, and smart businesses are taking heed."

[edit] Quotes

"The solar-power market offers perhaps one of the greatest opportunities among its clean-tech peers. Not only is the worldwide solar market growing by 30% to 50% per year, but the same technologies that enabled the semiconductor and computer revolution are now being leveraged in the solar market." (p. 20)
"Wind energy has been expanding rapidly since the mid-1990s -- right up there with solar. From 1995 to 2006, global cumulative installed wind-power capacity expanded fifteenfold, from less than 5,000 MW to more than 74,000 MW." (p. 21)
"Today, Brazil gets more than 30% of its automobile fuels from sugar cane-based ethanol. In the United States, ethanol is nearly a 5-billion-gallon-a-year industry, on target to reach 7.5 billion gallons (about 5% of total gasoline consumption) around 2010. One of the greatest opportunities will lie in distilling fuels and creating materials from cellulosic nonfood crops such as switchgrass and jatropha." (p. 21)
"Today’s green buildings use some 30% less energy than their comparably sized nongreen counterparts (some save much more), and they’re generally brighter, healthier, and more aesthetically pleasing. Often built with little or no additional up-front cost, green offices, for instance, pay back not only in energy savings but also in greater employee retention, attendance, and productivity." (p. 21)
"Since 2003, hybrid cars have gone from a tiny speck on the automotive landscape to one of the U.S. vehicle market’s fastest growing segments. Toyota doubled its flagship hybrid car’s allocation in North America in 2005, to 100,000, and started building hybrids on U.S. assembly lines in 2006. By the end of 2006 there were some 15 hybrid models on showroom floors, including hybrid models for such popular vehicles as the Honda Civic and Accord and the Toyota Camry." (p. 4)

[edit] Release and reception

The Clean Tech Revolution was published by Collins as a 320 page hardcover on June 12, 2007, with the ISBN-10 006089623X and ISBN-13 978-0060896232.[9] An e-book version was published by HarperCollins on June 7, 2007, and is available for free wireless delivery through Amazon Kindle.[10]

The physicist and environmentalist, Joseph Romm, has recommended The Clean Tech Revolution to people who are looking for one book to help them get up to speed on what's happening in clean technology. He says The Clean Tech Revolution is the only book that covers the whole gamut of the latest in clean energy and yet isn't swept up in fads like hydrogen cars.[11]

Denis Du Bois, editor of Energy Priorities Magazine, also commented on the realistic and comprehensive coverage of the book. However, The Clean Tech Revolution is not an explanation of the technologies and how they work, nor is it an analysis of energy or environmental policy. Policy is complicated and the authors avoid discussing it in detail.[12]

There is also little discussion that ties the various clean technologies together and the book has been criticised for a "single-minded American focus". For example there is little discussion about the influence of mass transit and urban planning in Europe and other progressive regions. The chapter on water focuses on filtration, and skims over toxins (and the myriad global laws regulating them). This already is an area of considerable opportunity, and it affects even "green" industries, such as photovoltaics manufacturing.[12]

Pernick and Wilder do not recommend specific stocks or securities. They prefer to lay out a blueprint of opportunities, technologies, companies, and trends that may build successful businesses and strengthen economies.[2]

The book has also been criticised for giving "short shrift to nuclear and 'clean coal' technology", as both energy sources are likely to feature in the world's overall energy picture in the foreseeable future. As such, they not only represent compelling investment opportunities themselves, but they could also diminish the market penetration that some of the other clean energy sources might be able to achieve.[13]

[edit] Recent developments

In a September 2007 article in Renewable Energy Access Wilder explains that, while some hurdles remain, the key solar trends mapped out in The Clean Tech Revolution—scaling up manufacturing and driving down costs—are coming to pass:

From the Nevada desert to the roofs of Wal-Mart stores to the legendary plains of Spain, solar is entering a bold, bright new era. Each week, solar seems to be winning new enthusiasts like Forbes, new investors of all stripes, and new large-scale business users like Wal-Mart, Macy's and Kohl's. Late last month, North Carolina Governor Mike Easley signed that state's first renewable portfolio standard into law, which includes a solar set-aside.[14]

Investment money is pouring in, production lines are humming and expanding, the silicon shortage is being addressed, and the long-fought challenge of bringing solar to scale (the title of a 2002 Clean Edge report) is finally showing real hope. Last month, red-hot Chinese solar wafer supplier LDK Solar (whose second-quarter revenue grew 700%) announced manufacturing expansions that would raise its production capacity above 1,600 megawatts (MW) by the end of 2009. German solar cell producer Ersol Solar Energy just inked a contract for 1 billion euros to supply Germany PV module company Solon AG for 11 years.[14]

Ernst & Young and Dow Jones VentureOne have reported that investments in clean technology companies in the first half of 2007 have reached $1.1 billion. The research found that clean technology investments are poised to increase by more than 35% in 2007 compared with 2006.[15] Very large corporations such as GE, Toyota and Sharp, and investment firms such as Goldman Sachs are now making multi-billion dollar investments in clean technology.[1]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b c Pernick, Ron and Wilder, Clint (2007). The Clean Tech Revolution: The Next Big Growth and Investment Opportunity Collins, 320 pages, ISBN 978-0060896232, Retrieved 14 December 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d e For investors, a heads-up on clean tech The Boston Globe, August 5, 2007. Retrieved 14 December 2008.
  3. ^ Ron Pernick -- Clean Edge Renewable Energy Access, (undated). Retrieved 14 December 2008.
  4. ^ Pernick, Ron and Wilder, Clint (2007). The Clean Tech Revolution (PDF) p. 3.
  5. ^ Pernick, Ron and Wilder, Clint (2007). The Clean Tech Revolution (PDF)
  6. ^ Pernick, Ron and Wilder, Clint (2007). The Clean Tech Revolution (PDF) p. 24.
  7. ^ Pernick, Ron and Wilder, Clint (2007). The Clean Tech Revolution (PDF) p. 25.
  8. ^ Pernick, Ron and Wilder, Clint (2007). The Clean Tech Revolution (PDF) pp. 5–16.
  9. ^ The Clean Tech Revolution: The Next Big Growth and Investment Opportunity Retrieved 14 December 2008.
  10. ^ The Clean Tech Revolution (Kindle Edition), Retrieved 14 December 2008.
  11. ^ The best clean-tech book Grist, August 6, 2007. Retrieved 14 December 2008.
  12. ^ a b Book Review: "The Clean Tech Revolution" Energy Priorities, June 11, 2007. Retrieved 14 December 2008.
  13. ^ Foolish Book Review: "The Clean Tech Revolution" The Motley Fool, November 16, 2007. Retrieved 14 December 2008.
  14. ^ a b A New Bold, Bright Era for Solar Renewable Energy Access, September 12, 2007. Retrieved 14 December 2008.
  15. ^ Cleantech investments surge, September 26, 2007. Retrieved 14 December 2008.

[edit] External links

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