A new report confirms what most felt in their guts – that California is a leader in the solar industry. Nonprofit group Next 10 released the fourth annual report on clean energy technology compiled Collaborative Economics. “We’ve been trying to ask the basic question of – can we grow the California economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the same time,” said Doug Henton, CEO of Collaborative Economics. And the answer appears to be yes.
“The report lays out the policy timeline and then asks what’s the impact of that on the economy,” he said. Henton’s firm used a number of metrics to measure economic growth due to investment in clean energy improvements. Among those measures, two stood out – the number of patents filed in California and the amount of venture capital investment. The state surpasses all others on both fronts, Henton said. “Patent filings allow us to see where innovation I coming from,” he said.
Clean technology patent registration in California climbed 41 percent from the period between 2005 to 2007 and the period from 2008 to 2010, according to the report. The number of patent registrations for solar technologies doubled from 2009 to 2010 when there were 105 solar patents filed. The other major measure of clean technology and specifically solar’s success is venture capital investment, Henton said. Venture capital investment in California’s clean energy technology sector rose 24 percent year-over-year to $3.5 billion in 2011. Venture capital invested in solar accounted for $1.2 billion of that and saw a 62 percent increase over 2010 figures, according to the report.
“Investors are seeing value here,” Henton said. The state has made headlines this year with several large utility-scale projects breaking ground and under construction. The state also hit the 1 gigawatt of installed solar benchmark in 2011, which puts it in the same tier as some of the most solarized countries, Henton said. “I firmly believe this data shows it’s possible to grow the economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the same time,” Henton said. “But there’s one condition – we have to do it through innovation.”