The Clean Tech Revolution Blog
id = "FBMainForm_2436328" action="the_clean_tech_revolution_blog.html" method = "post" onsubmit = "return false" >

On Bill Clinton, Jim Rogers, George W. Bush, and Dueling Realities
by Wilder on 

At last month’s Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) annual meeting in New York which I covered on behalf of Clean Edge, I got to meet Jim Rogers. Rogers is the CEO of Duke Energy, one of the nation’s largest utilities, and he’s been way out front among industry executives in calling for federal government action on carbon emissions caps, once telling the Wall Street Journal: “If you’re not at the table [when cap rules are written], you’re going to be on the menu.”

Meeting Rogers – and learning that he had read and very much enjoyed The Clean Tech Revolution -- was one of many highlights of an incredible CGI experience. Three days of powerful, inspiring talks and world-changing commitments from the likes of Tony Blair, Wangari Maathai, Jane Goodall, Ted Turner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, CEOs Lee Scott of Wal-Mart and Chad Holliday of DuPont, committed celebs like Brad Pitt and Andre Agassi – there is nothing like it.

In relation to clean tech, one of the most powerful commitments was the pledge by Rogers and the CEOs of seven other large U.S. utilities (including Con Edison, Pepco, and Xcel) to spend an additional $500 million on energy efficiency technologies and practices over the next 10 years – and to ask state regulators to decouple utility profits from electric consumption rates (as in California, the national leader in efficiency) to make efficiency more economically attractive.

The one message repeated often over three days at CGI, from business leaders, heads of state, and NGO activists was very simple: “Put a price on carbon.” Another utility exec, NRG’s David Crane, made this point eloquently and passionately in a recent Washington Post op-ed titled “We’re Carboholics. Make us Stop.” Crane opens the piece by noting that his company alone emits more greenhouse gases than Norway. “Why do we do it?...We do so because CO2 emissions are free.”

The message couldn’t be clearer – it is long past time for a federal cap-and-trade mandate in the United States (more politically palatable than a carbon tax). That will send a strong signal to China and India that the world’s largest economy finally intends to lead on the world’s most pressing global issue – infinitely better than the current U.S. federal policy of  “why should we do anything mandatory if China’s emissions growth will just negate it?” approach. What kind of world leadership is that?

What struck me over those three powerful September days in New York was the wide-ranging, bipartisan global groundswell of support for meaningful, mandatory, enforceable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions – and the recognition that this is the right way to go for economic as well as environmental reasons. So it was even more galling and frustrating to hear President Bush, at the end of that same week in September, reject mandatory CO2 cuts in favor of a mostly unspecified path that he said “does not undermine economic growth or prevent nations from delivering greater prosperity for their people.”

It’s the same old, tired, knee-jerk mantra we’ve heard for at least six years now: that mandated carbon reduction will hurt our economy. I guess that may be true if you have no faith whatsoever in the ability of your economy and its financiers to think beyond the current quarter’s earnings-per-share, to rethink energy consumption models, and to develop innovative technologies. If your model of economic success is 19th century Britain, not 21st century America. Or if “the economy” is really just a blanket phrase meaning only the less enlightened members of the coal and oil industries?

This is not a partisan issue. At CGI, Republican Governor Charlie Crist of Florida was among the most eloquent speakers calling for mandatory action. As governor of a low-lying coastal state, he knows better than anyone how economically devastating it will be to not take action – and he’s also seen the financial benefits of clean technologies for Florida-based FPL Energy, the nation’s largest developer of wind farms. And just this past week, Republican Senators like Elizabeth Dole, Norm Coleman, and Susan Collins pledged their support for federal cap-and-trade legislation in a bill co-sponsored by esteemed Repblican Sen. John Warner.

At the end of CGI, I was fortunate enough to shake Bill Clinton’s hand and give him a copy of The Clean Tech Revolution. He thanked me and proceeded to deliver a mini-speech about the fallacy of a conflict between environmental action and economic growth. “The people putting this myth out over the airwaves don’t know what they’re talking about,” he told me and the crowd around him.

Most of the world, including an increasing number of prominent business leaders in the U.S. and abroad, are waking up to that reality. It is long past time to act. Waiting around for a new U.S. administration in 2009, as some seem resigned to do, means at least another 15 months of delay. In that time, how many billions of dollars will not be invested in clean technologies, reforestation, critical R & D, and other key tools in the global battle against climate change? How many plans for new coal-fired plants will be drawn up? That will be a steep price to pay if we don’t reject the alternative reality coming from the White House today.




[ ] Comments     Permalink     Add Comment

Clean Energy: It's All About Scale
by Pernick on 

The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) likes to say that we are in Phase II of renewable energy development. In this worldview, the past 30 years were about developing core clean-energy technologies, and the next couple of decades will be about focusing the nation’s efforts on putting (as ACORE says on its web site) “these new technologies to use in our society, with benefits for energy supply, national security, economic growth, investment, jobs, a cleaner environment, reduced risk of climate change, and improved health.”

I couldn’t agree more. We are moving into the next stage of clean- energy technical, financial, and policy development. And I believe it will be all about scaling up.

Clean energy is moving so far beyond the “alternative” moniker that many regions and states are now targeting 20 percent or more of their energy from clean-energy sources within the next decade or two – representing more electricity generating capacity than natural gas in many regions. Even China is targeting significant amounts of renewable energy. China’s Renewable Energy Law is targeting 120 GW of new renewable by 2015 (representing three times the amount of nuclear power currently on the drawing boards).

So, will clean energy technologies like solar, wind, and biofuels and its efficiency brethren like green buildings, light emitting diodes (LEDs), and the smart grid be the dominant form of global energy generation (and conservation) by 2020? Perhaps not. But will they represent the highest growth and innovation opportunity in the energy sector and double-digit chunks of our energy infrastructure? Absolutely!

Just look at the numbers to put this “scale up” in perspective. Back in 2003 the solar industry was valued at less than U.S. $5 billion globally with around 600 MW of solar manufactured worldwide. By 2006 that number had approached U.S. $16 billion with more than 2 GW of solar manufactured globally. Now, companies like German-based SolarWorld are announcing plans for 500 MW solar manufacturing facilities (in the U.S. nonetheless) – nearly equal in size to the total global manufacturing output (among all manufacturers) just five years ago.

Wind power, which in 2003 represented just 8000 MW worldwide of new installed generation capacity, nearly doubled to more than 15,000 MW in 2006. Just last month T. Boones Pickens announced plans for a 4000 MW wind power plant – that’s equal to the total annual global install less than a decade ago. FPL recently announced that it will develop 10,000 MW of new wind power projects between now and 2012. What will this inevitable scale-up mean to the industry? Well, we’re certain to see increased M&A activity as multinationals with clean- energy interests like ADM, Applied Materials, FPL, GE, Honda, Sharp, and Toyota work to maintain or build their leadership positions. And of course, we’ll see a slew of public offerings. In just the past year such companies as First Solar, Comverge, and Enernoc have gone public – with many other companies waiting in the wings. And performance for the sector hasn’t been bad. Between the beginning of the year and the end of July the NASDAQ Clean Edge U.S. Liquid Series index (CELS), a benchmark index designed by Clean Edge and NASDAQ®, was up more than 30 percent.

I firmly believe that scaling up manufacturing and driving down costs is not a luxury for the clean-energy sector – but a necessity. Wind, after 30 years of significant gains is now cost competitive in most markets in the world with limited subsidies. Solar, while still 2-3 times more expensive than most of its energy competitors on a pure cost basis, can compete economically at the retail level in many markets when modules and systems integration are packaged with government incentives and financing schemes. As installed solar system pricing reaches $3.50 per peak watt in the next five year s or so – we’ll see solar competing in most utility markets without the need for significant subsidies.

As I look out over the next 5-10 years I’m confident that the most important development in the clean-energy sector will be the scaling of manufacturing, systems integration, and equally important, technology deployment. Millions of jobs and billions of dollars will be generated in the process if policymakers, investors, corporations, and innovators get this right.

It won’t be easy. Many core technologies, like solar cells and wind turbines and LEDs, will become commodities – making the business proposition more difficult for players that don’t innovate and capture a larger portion of the value chain. But it represents the natural “growing up” of the clean-energy sector. And, as we move into this next stage of clean-tech development, the economy will be sustainably transformed in the process.

Welcome to Phase II!

[ ] Comments     Permalink     Add Comment

Reuters Covers our Book
by Wilder on 

Nice Reuters article this week on The Clean Tech Revolution follows below. We're very pleased, and happy to report that this story has already been picked up by Scientific American, the International Business Times, and other publications. It also led to a good story today in the Vancouver Sun, spotlighting what we wrote in the "Create Your Own Silicon Valley" chapter on Vancouver as a center for clean-tech business leadership, particularly in the fuel cell industry.

I couldn't help but note the juxtaposition when the story first appeared on the Reuters web site next to the headline, "Oil Climbs to $77 a Barrel." Just one more factor pushing the clean tech revolution forward...

Clean tech becomes big business
Thu Aug 2, 2007 8:24AM EDT
By Leonard Anderson

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Clean technology is evolving from environmental issue to big business, opening a world of opportunities for companies, entrepreneurs and investors who see a chance to -- yes -- clean up, says a new book.

"Clean technology is everywhere," write Ron Pernick and Clint Wilder in "The Clean Tech Revolution: The Next Big Growth and Investment Opportunity" (Collins, $26.95).

They describe clean tech as "any product, service, or process that delivers value using limited or zero nonrenewable resources and/or creates significantly less waste than conventional offerings."

The main force pushing clean tech from "utopian dreams" to new Silicon Valleys and Wall Street is simple economics: "Clean-energy costs are falling as the costs of fossil fuel energy are going up," the authors write.

Alternative energy and building technologies are expanding, but in centers that haven't had the cachet of California's Silicon Valley, the launch pad for personal computers, the Internet and biotech.

Emerging clean tech cities include Copenhagen, where wind power generates 20 percent of Denmark's electricity, and Chicago, a leader in "green" buildings saving energy and heating and cooling costs, the authors say.

"Clean tech has roots in the Birkenstocks-back-to-the-earth alternatives in the 1970s," Pernick, co-founder of the Clean Edge research and publishing firm, said in an interview.

"But the alternatives are now becoming very mainstream because corporations from General Electric to Toyota to Sharp to Wal-Mart are embedding new technologies into their current and future growth strategies," he said.

Pernick and Wilder break down clean tech into four main sectors -- energy, transportation, water, and materials -- and examine business and investment opportunities.

Solar energy companies, for example, are competing for a projected $69 billion in sales by 2016, up from $16 billion last year, while wind power growth is put at $61 billion in 2016, compared with $17.9 billion in 2006.

WHERE TO GO

Surging demand for energy in China and India also is driving clean-energy, transportation, building and water-delivery technologies.

Along with Copenhagen and Chicago, the top-10 roster of new Silicon Valleys includes Austin, Texas; Freiburg, Germany; New York; Vancouver, British Columbia; Hyderabad, India; Portland, Oregon; San Francisco; and Shanghai.

Eight sectors with the strongest growth opportunities include solar energy, wind power, biofuels and biomaterials, green buildings, personal transportation, smart electric grid, mobile applications like portable fuel cells, and water filtration, the authors say.

But they don't tout 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.

Short sidebars on "breakthrough opportunities" -- for example, integrating solar power into everything from portable electronic gadgets to roof tiles to glass; filtering out pollutants from water with the aid of nanomaterial membranes -- are sprinkled through each chapter.

There are also "10 to watch" lists of one-paragraph briefs on promising clean tech companies, such as Southwest Windpower in Flagstaff, Arizona, which is targeting small single turbines for residences.

Along with the company briefs, the authors also have included a separate section of chapter notes on research and sources, a reference for anyone wanting to know more about clean tech.

© Reuters 2006. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.


[ ] Comments     Permalink     Add Comment

America’s Next Wave of Innovation and Wealth Creation could come from Clean Technologies – But Government Must Act
by Pernick on 

Opinion Piece by Ron Pernick and Clint Wilder

 

The United States, often the world’s leader in technological innovation, could be about to cede the next wave of business breakthroughs and wealth creation – those that come from clean energy and other clean technologies – to other nations if it doesn’t act soon. The nation desperately needs an aggressive, comprehensive clean-energy package, including a national renewable portfolio standard (RPS), if it is to remain relevant on an increasingly competitive global playing field.

 

While the Senate, House, and President get caught in a web of accusations, filibusters, back-room manipulation, and threatened vetoes, the future of our commitment to innovation and economic competitiveness suffers. It’s time that Americans get an energy policy that moves the nation into the future, not one based on the technologies and energy sources of the past. In recent energy legislation passed by the Senate, opponents succeeded in preventing inclusion of a national RPS calling for 15% of electricity to come from clean energy sources by 2020 and dropping $32 billion in clean-energy tax incentives that would have supported the development of solar, wind, and other new energy resources. Now it’s up to the House to see if it can move any of these initiatives forward.

 

Since the start of the new millennium, as a clean-tech leadership vacuum persisted at the U.S. federal level, it’s been U.S. states and cities that have picked up the ball. Two dozen states – both blue and red, comprising well over half the country’s population – now have RPS’s that require their utilities to generate a specific percentage of their power from clean and renewable sources by a specified date. Hundreds of U.S. cities have signed on to meet or beat the targets outlined in the Kyoto Protocol.  But such local- and state-level actions, by themselves, are no longer adequate.

 

Policies to grow the use of clean energy are not simply an environmental aim, they are an economic imperative.

 

Industries such as solar energy, wind power, and biofuels are growing at 30% annually or more, and they are creating quality jobs and becoming cornerstones of economic development from the plains of Iowa to the R&D centers of Shanghai. Germany, Japan, Denmark, Spain, Brazil and many other nations are vying for clean-tech leadership; even China has a national RPS and fuel efficiency standards that are currently more aggressive than those in the U.S. If the U.S. is to compete effectively in this new global environment, now is the time for the federal government to get serious about a consolidated, all hands-on deck, committed clean-energy policy – including a national RPS. At a recent [6/21] conference of global clean-energy financiers in New York, California Energy Commissioner John Geesman called our lack of an RPS “a national embarrassment.”As Tokyo, Beijing, and Frankfurt continue to plot their clean-tech futures, the U.S. must take a leadership role in the creation and deployment of clean energy, transportation, and efficiency technologies.  

 

Just look at the numbers. According to research firm New Energy Finance, approximately $70 billion is now being invested globally in clean energy technologies by corporations, governments, venture capitalists, and the public stock market.  Our firm, Clean Edge, estimates that the current market for solar power, wind power, biofuels, and fuel cells now exceeds $50 billion globally. And Clean Edge and Nth Power, which each year track clean-energy venture activity in the U.S., report that energy-tech venture activity alone has increased from less than one percent of the total venture pie in 1999 to nearly ten percent in 2006.

 

And one look no further than such corporate leaders as Google, IBM, GE, Applied Materials, and even Wal-Mart – all U.S. companies seriously working to deploy clean technologies  and push the innovation envelope. So what can the Federal government do? In order to guarantee a leadership role and smart policy, we believe the national government must:

 

·         Stay focused. Don’t confuse the issue by saying that nuclear power and so-called clean coal are clean technologies. They are not, and the Senate wisely defeated an amendment by Sen. Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico) that would have put them under the RPS umbrella.  Focus on the industries that use proven technologies to produce power cleanly and more efficiently.

 

·         Shift subsidies from fossil fuels to clean energy technologies such as solar, wind, biofuels, smart grid, and energy efficiency. Make sure these commitments are long-term, reliable, and consistent.

 

·         Get serious about carbon. Our global counterparts have already begun to put a price on carbon and are building robust markets. In 2006 alone, the World Bank reports that the carbon trading market in Europe was worth approximately $20 billion.  The U.S. must join this global imperative, and leading U.S. companies such as DuPont, Duke Energy, and PG&E are already calling for federal action.

 

·         Provide Guidance to the States. To paraphrase the famous line from Tip O’Neill– “All Energy is Local.” But the federal government can and must do its part with nationwide standards and financial commitments, along with national clean energy and renewable fuel targets. Clean-tech leadership is in our national interest; it can’t all be left up to the states in isolation.

 

Detractors and naysayers, of course, will say that clean energy is subsidy-dependent and therefore can’t compete in the marketplace.  But this is disingenuous double-speak. Close observers of the energy industry know that there is no such thing as a subsidy- and policy-independent energy source. The oil, coal, and nuclear power industries have all relied heavily not only on government policy, but also on rich and lucrative subsidy programs.

 

Others will argue that clean technologies can’t scale up. But this is misguided thinking. Spain and Denmark, for example, already generate about 20 percent of their nation’s electricity from wind power and leading states like California are targeting around 30 percent of their grid electricity from new renewables before the end of the next decade.

 

The U.S., known for its innovation in earlier tech revolutions such as computer chips, telecom, and the Internet -- can lead once again. But it will take a concerted effort by an army of corporate innovators and startup entrepreneurs – and, like any revolution – it will require supportive government policies. Sure, we’re big supporters of the American free-market economy – but it’s unrealistic to act as if government policy and leadership doesn’t matter. In today’s increasingly competitive global marketplace, you either innovate or die -- and government has a critical role in this process.

 

Now is the time to push the envelope on the development of 21st century clean technologies. We need to embed silicon, like we have in our communication networks, into the electric grid. We need cars that don’t just get 30 or 40 miles per gallon – but a new breed of plug-in hybrids that get up to 100 miles per gallon or more.  Google.org recently awarded $1 million in grants and announced plans to provide $10 million toward the development, adoption, and commercialization of plug-in hybrids and fully electric cars.

 

We believe that we are in the midst of one of the greatest shifts in human history. Within 50 years, we'll look back at the beginning of the 21st century and see it as the tipping point for clean technology. The choice for investors, companies, governments, and individuals is simple. Be part of one of the greatest business and economic shifts in recorded human history, or become extinct like the dinosaurs whose fossils fueled the last great industrial revolution. The opportunity for wealth creation and economic leadership stands on one side of the equation and the very real threat of the collapse of civilization as we know it on the other.

 

Shouldn’t the federal government of one of the most forward-thinking, innovative, and technologically savvy nations on earth be leading that effort? 

 

[ ] Comments     Permalink     Add Comment

Clean Tech in Unlikely Places
by Wilder on 

  One of the great things about presenting The Clean Tech Revolution in public appearances is the chance to hear new perspectives on clean tech from around the country. This occurred during my recent presentation about the book at the summer cultural mecca of Chautauqua Institution in western New York state (full disclosure: I've visited Chautauqua every summer throughout my life, from my homes in Pennsylvania, New York City, Boston, and now San Francisco). During the Q & A session, I got to hear from, among many others, a Kentucky man seeking to start a clean tech business (perhaps ethanol) in his home state, and a top PR executive from Alcoa in Pittsburgh who asked me to assess the track record of U.S. Presidents on clean energy incentives -- which has generally been poor.
  From the growth of wind farms in rural New York state to the new energy independence strategy Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, I'm encouraged to see the commitment to clean tech in this part of the country. One particularly exciting project, which I visited last week, is the 20-megawatt Steel Winds wind farm in Lackawanna, N.Y., just outside Buffalo. On the shores of Lake Erie next to a long-shuttered Bethlehem Steel plant, a dozen 2.5-megawatt Clipper Windpower turbines harness the lake breezes at the United States' first urban wind farm. The juxtaposition of leading-edge clean tech next to the remnants of a previous industrial revolution -- the future rising from the past -- is a tremendously hopeful sign. And especially for me -- my late father spent his entire career as a steel company executive. Lackawanna, New York: one of many unlikely capitals of clean tech.

[ ] Comments     Permalink     Add Comment

China is Going to Wake Up!
by Pernick on 

During the research and writing of the The Clean Tech Revolution both Clint and I traveled to China. We both believed it was critical to get a first-hand look at one of the world's most dynamic markets in action -- and to see just where China might be going with regards to clean technology development and deployment. In fact, as we were compiling the list of major forces impacting the growth of clean tech -- China (one of our Six Cs) was a clear winner. After all, with tens of millions of people moving into the middle classes, the Chinese government committing to 120 GW of new renewables, an an emerging clean-tech manufacturing base, it's clear China is going to have a huge impact.

 

But something else, I believe, is going to really put China on the map. The Chinese people themselves are going to wake up -- and start demanding a balance between development and quality of life. Just like the book Silent Spring in the U.S., and the Minamata disaster in Japan, awoke those countries environmental movements decades before -- something similar is going to happen in China.

 

BBC NewsBut what will it be to turn the tides? Just today the BBC reports that a soon-to-be-issued World Bank report might be released with critical information pulled from it upon request from Chinese officials. The missing data, which is still being analyzed, preliminarily found that "up to 760,000 people die prematurely each year in China because of air and water pollution."

 

Chinese officials believe that the release of such data could cause widespread civil unrest. But if this data turns out to be accurate, and the World Bank has the backbone to release it in its final findings, then I think something else might happen. The birth of the Chinese environmental movement might begin in earnest -- and the advent of a truly robust clean-tech revolution in China could take hold. In other words -- the only way the Chinese can get themselves out of this serious environmental mess is to use the power of technology, markets, and a wholesale adoption of carbon-free and low-pollution technologies.

 

As we report in the book, China is home to 16 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world. Anyone who has visited China lately knows about the issue. A day in Beijing leaves a non smoker feeling like they've just downed a pack of cigarettes.

 

When I was in China it left me thinking of the perfect public service announcement (PSA) for a Chinese environmental policy group: Have pictures of babies from around the world -- say one from Beijing, another from San Francisco, and yet others from Tokyo and Amsterdam. Then show the level of pollution and toxicity found, on average, in these babies bodies. My guess is that the Beijing baby would be off the richter scale in terms of embodied pollutants.  

 

Maybe I'm dreaming, or overly optimistic, but my bet is the Chinese people are going to wake up to this issue themselves (with the help of an accurate World Bank report, a big environmental disaster yet to happen that the Chinese government can't cover up, or perhaps my aforementioned PSA) -- and then nothing will ever be quite the same.

 

 

 

 

[ ] Comments     Permalink     Add Comment

Clean Tech's Mainstream Momentum
by Wilder on 

Ron and I have been thrilled by the positive reactions we've received to The Clean Tech Revolution. And it's gratifying to see such momentum in the clean-tech industry at the same time. Last week, I attended the Renewable Energy Finance Forum-Wall Street conference in New York, where some 700 clean-tech financiers and executives jammed the venerable Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel to discuss industry growth and make deals. Talk about going mainstream!

And it seemed quite fitting to learn during the conference that Texas oil magnate/corporate raider T. Boone Pickens, of all people, had announced plans to build the world's largest wind farm in the next few years.

One of our goals for the book is to spread the message of clean tech as the next big growth and investment opportunity -- as we write in the book, the greatest opportunity for wealth creation in a generation. From Wall Street to the plains of Texas, a lot of folks obviously agree.

[ ] Comments     Permalink     Add Comment

Clean Tech and the Art of Long-Term Thinking
by Pernick on 

Here's a column that I wrote which recently ran on Renewable Energy Access and Clean Edge.  It's about the critical need for long-term thinking in the age of clean technology...

 

Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, when I lived and worked in Japan, I spent time studying and practicing Zen meditation at a Buddhist temple on the outskirts of Nara. One thing I learned in my meditation practice, and in my work with such large Japanese corporations as Sharp and Osaka Gas & Electric, was the art of long-term thinking.

Some people call this “thinking like a mountain,” and I believe it should be a key tenet for companies, governments, investors, and others striving for clean-tech success. The general idea is that significant monumental shifts rarely happen in days or weeks, but take years or decades to materialize. In this world view, it takes the perspective of a mountain – something that has been around for millennia – to put human activity and aspirations, and natural systems, into perspective.

In our just-released book, The Clean Tech Revolution, coauthor Clint Wilder and I discuss why clean-tech markets are finally – after years of pioneering efforts – hitting their stride, building momentum, and, most importantly, going mainstream. We show how clean tech is penetrating both Wall Street and Main Street. We argue that clean technology will have decades-long staying power and that it offers the greatest opportunity for wealth creation in a generation.

The global energy industry provides a great example of the need for long-term thinking. It took coal nearly 100 years to bypass traditional energy sources (such as the burning of wood) as the world’s primary energy source. It then took oil nearly 100 years to surpass coal usage. Natural gas has been more than 100 years in development and now represents about 20% of global primary energy use. Similarly, it will take new renewables, such as wind, solar, and biofuels, 10, 20, or 30 years to catch up with coal, oil, and natural gas. That’s the reality of energy markets and one of the reasons why long-term thinking is so critical in the realm of clean tech.

But herein lies the opportunity. The clean tech revolution is actually already 30 to 50 years in the making; the first conversion of sunlight to electricity in a solar PV cell, for example, took place at Bell Labs in 1954 and the first large-scale wind farms now date back nearly 30 years.

Unlike the Internet, which went through a rapid boom-and-bust cycle – a classic bubble – the transition to new energy, transportation, advanced materials, and water technologies will look more like a long boom. To be sure, there will be occasional irrational exuberance and some highly-touted and promising companies will fail. But with the right combination of policy, capital, and technology, the exploding global market for clean tech will not abate anytime soon.

Clean Edge recently conducted research on what it would take, from a venture, project, and capital investment perspective, to wean the U.S. off of Middle East Oil. Our analysis found that it would require spending at least $15 billion/year on clean-energy and efficiency technologies over a ten-year period. Such an investment could result in replacing 25 billion gallons per year of gasoline by 2018 – the equivalent of today’s imports of Middle East oil.

Globally, over the next 25 years, the world will need to produce 10 to 30 terawatts of new energy. Some people have pointed out that, to meet these demands, it will be like adding the equivalent of 100 new ExxonMobil-sized companies to the economy. Indeed, future Carnegies, Rockefellers, and Mellons will likely come from such clean-tech industries as wind power, solar photovoltaics, biofuels and biopolymers, rather than the extractive, resource-depleting, polluting industries of old.

Leading Japanese companies have understood and embraced the concept of long-term thinking better than most of their global corporate counterparts. As hard as it might be for most quarterly-driven companies to fathom, Toyota and other Japanese firms have 10-, 50- and even 100-year strategic business plans. That’s why a Toyota can plan decades ahead to be the world’s hybrid leader and Sharp can focus for decades on solar domination – and both can achieve such lofty goals.

And others are following suit. In The Clean Tech Revolution we profile such multinationals as 3M, ADM, Applied Materials, DuPont, FPL Energy, GE, Iberdrola, and Wal-Mart that are taking leadership positions in this technological renaissance. We look at startups such as GridPoint, Imperium Renewables, Sun Edison and Suzlon, that are embracing new models and creating vibrant businesses.

A look at the business news headlines over the past couple of months provides a further glimpse into this transition. Goldman Sachs announced the sale of its Horizon Wind Energy development group to Portugal-based EDP for more than U.S. $2 billion. Tyson Foods and Conoco Philips say they are pairing up to take animal fats and turn them into biodiesel. SolarWorld and Vestas, two global leaders in solar and wind respectively, announced plans to develop multi- million dollar production facilities in the U.S.

Governments and NGOs are playing a central role as well. With cities, states, and nations around the globe planning to generate at least 20% to 30% of their total energy from clean-energy sources within the next decade or two, and with billions of people still in need of potable water and reliable electricity in the developing world, clean tech will be a dominant force well into the 21st century.

This is why clean tech represents the biggest win-win opportunity of an era and why long-term thinking will be a critical tool for those participating in this massive industrial transformation. We believe that nothing less than the future health of our collective economies and environment depends upon it.

 

[ ] Comments     Permalink     Add Comment

A Confluence of Forces: Two Babies and a Book
by Pernick on 

In The Clean Tech Revolution we talk about a Confluence of Forces that are reshaping the political, business, and technology landscape and enabling the mainstreaming of clean technologies.

 

Well, I’ve had my own private “confluence of forces” of late that I wanted to share with readers of our book.

 

Here’s how it all played out.  On the morning of May 23 UPS rang the doorbell with a delivery. I ran downstairs excitedly and signed for the package. Inside – my first 15 copies of The Clean Tech Revolution.

 

At the same time the books arrived, my wife and I were assembled upstairs in our 100-year-old Portland home discussing the pending birth of our twins and trying to ascertain if she was going into labor. After looking at all the signs and meeting with our doula– we were pretty confident that our first children were indeed about to arrive.

 

We called our doctor – and after monitoring the situation for a few more hours – we were ordered to Labor and Delivery.  Later that day, at just after 5 PM Pacific Standard Time, our son Jonah and daughter Sanaa were welcomed into the world.

 

Talk about a confluence of forces!!!

 

Now, less than three weeks later, the twins are safely home with their parents, and my other baby, The Clean Tech Revolution (coauthored with Clint Wilder) is hitting bookstore shelves…

 

Daddy, albeit a bit sleep deprived, couldn’t be happier!

[ ] Comments     Permalink     Add Comment

Welcome From the Authors -- Ron Pernick and Clint Wilder
by Pernick on 

Back in 2003 we first discussed the idea of writing a book on clean technology. In our work at Clean Edge we followed the developments of the clean-tech marketplace on a daily basis and we believed that a book that chronicled and identified the clean-tech opportunity was sorely missing.

 

We put the idea for a book on the back burner as we set about building Clean Edge into a leading clean-tech research, publishing, and consulting firm. During that time Clean Edge began co-producing the annual Clean-Tech Investor Summit (see last year's agenda); consulting to a range of clients including the City of San Francisco, Sharp Electronics, Energy Innovations, Miasole', Solaria, and the California Energy Commission; publishing our annual Clean Energy Trends report; and most recently, launching the NASDAQ Clean Edge U.S. index

 

But during the build out of Clean Edge, the idea for a business book focused on the emerging opportunity never went way.  Sometimes you have a hankering that you just can't get rid of. That was how it was for us related to writing a book. So we got serious again in early 2005 -- finding an agent, pulling together a book proposal, and setting about finding a publisher.

 

Without going into the details -- in late 2005 we had a signed contract with Collins, an imprint of HarperCollins.  And we set about writing the book that we are now releasing.

 

We've written what we believe is the first business book to highlight the opportunities, point out the potential pitfalls, and show how the move toward clean technologies is not a choice - but an imperative for companies and governments that wish to remain competitive, build the jobs of the future, and help answer some of the biggest issues of our time (climate change, volatile fossil fuel supplies, the growth of the world's middle classes, etc.).

 

We hope you enjoy the book and this blog. It's been an exciting adventure for us to birth it. We believe that the clean-tech revolution chronicled in our writings will enable individuals, businesses, and governments to build new industries and guarantee the health of our planet -- both economically and environmentally.

 

Best,

 

Ron Pernick and Clint Wilder

Co-Founder and Principal, Clean Edge, Inc.

Contributing Editor, Clean Edge, Inc.

Co-Authors, The Clean Tech Revolution

 

[ ] Comments     Permalink     Add Comment

 
RSS Feed

Each chapter of The Clean Tech Revolution concludes with a list of ten companies that bear watching for trend-setting and growth potential in each of eight clean-technology sectors. Check them out:


TEN TO WATCH:

Solar Energy


Applied Materials


Miasolé


MMA Renewable Ventures


Nanosolar


Q-Cells


REC


Sharp


SunEdison


SunPower

Suntech Power


TEN TO WATCH:

Personal Transportation


CalCars


Chery


EEStor (no company Web site; news article here)


General Motors


Honda


REVA Electric Car


Tesla Motors


Toyota


Valence Technology


Vectrix