Two consultants associated with Clean Edge, a clean-tech advisory firm, review potential areas for investment in clean energy and technology.
Pernick and Wilder (co-authors: Clean Tech Revolution, 2007, etc.) believe that America is at a crossroads, bedeviled by a still-slow economy but poised to become a clean-technology powerhouse. “[C]lean tech,” they write, “has become the most critical industry of the 21st century—an essential component to global economic success for all developed countries, and increasingly for developing nations as well.” They review the latest developments—substantial price decreases in solar voltaic cells, wind power, electric vehicles and more—but consider the most significant development to be on the capital front with the growing involvement of venture capitalists. State and federal mandates have encouraged this development—e.g., federally mandated use of energy-efficient light bulbs and state regulations requiring utilities to incorporate alternate energies in the power mix. Pernick and Wilder also welcome a broadening of the debate from a narrow focus on global warming to a wider concern with environmental issues such as clean air and clean water. One of their most original contributions is their discussion of the synergistic relationship between urbanization and the creation of centers of innovation, spotlighting “15 U.S. clean-tech cities.” In 2008, half of the world's population was living in cities, a development fueled by China's rapid urbanization. This has encouraged the development of hubs in which there is a “concentration of intellectual and financial capital, business acumen, and university and research-lab R&D.” The authors compare these clean-tech clusters to the earlier development of Detroit's automobile industry, Hollywood’s film industry and Silicon Valley’s computer and software industry.
An informative, optimistic look at how a partnership between private capital and government can unleash America's innovative capabilities.