Clean Edge, a leading clean-tech research firm, released its 2014 U.S. Clean Tech Leadership Index today. The Index tracks the clean-tech activities of all 50 states and the 50 largest metro areas in the United States. Colorado is in fourth place among the 50 states, and Denver ranks tenth out of 50 American cities. The Index includes all clean energy activities from electric vehicles and renewables to patent and investment activity.
Colorado placed a very close fourth with a score of 66.8, up one place from the 2013 Index. Strong renewable energy deployments and its performance in energy intelligence/green buildings helped it place fifth in Technology, but Colorado’s best category is a #4 rank in Capital. Golden is home to the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory which is an increasingly vibrant ecosystem for clean-tech startups.
The good news is that clean energy is gaining market share. Clean Edge points out that eleven states now generate more than 10 percent of their electricity from non-hydro renewable energy sources, with two states — Iowa and South Dakota — exceeding 25 percent. New solar installations climbed more than 40 percent year-over-year in the U.S. last year and registrations of all-electric vehicles more than doubled between the 2013 and 2014 indexes, to nearly 220,000 nationwide.
The top 10 overall states in the 2014 State Index, ranked from one to ten are: California, Massachusetts, Oregon, Colorado, New York, New Mexico, Washington, Illinois, Vermont, and Connecticut.
The top overall metropolitan areas, ranked from one to ten are: San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego, Portland, OR, Sacramento, Boston, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, Austin, and Denver. Not surprisingly, four of the top ten cities were in California. What is somewhat surprising is that Austin ranks in the top ten given its location in the middle of oil country. Eight of the top 10 metro areas are located in the top four states.
Clean Edge points out that over the past year, states and cities continued to be where most of the clean tech action is in the United States due to a total lack of action by Congress. Supportive policies and aggressive technology deployments from Connecticut to California have made clean-energy generation, in particular residential and commercial solar PV, increasingly a popular energy choice for mainstream America.
“Climate disruption and the growing availability of market-competitive clean-energy technologies are driving many states and cities to tackle climate issues head-on,” Clean Edge founder and managing director Ron Pernick said in the release rolling out the new Index. “More than ever, this year’s Leadership Index highlights how some top regions are taking climate action seriously, with double-digit clean-energy adoption rates, new policies like California’s energy-storage mandate, and the deployment of clean-energy investment vehicles such as New York’s green bank.”
“Net-zero building and energy-storage mandates and new public-private investment vehicles are just a few of the emerging policies that are dramatically shifting the energy landscape,” Clean Edge senior editor Clint Wilder said. “While there have been some regional attacks against clean-tech supportive policies, such as net metering and renewable portfolio standards, for the most part, the clean-tech industry and its allies have successfully fought off such efforts.”
Clean Edge, Inc. was founded in 2000, and is the world’s first research and advisory firm devoted to the clean-tech sector. The company offers a suite of benchmarking services, including clean-energy stock indexes, the U.S. Clean Tech Leadership Index, and the soon-to-be-released Benchmarking Utility Clean Energy report with Ceres. For more information, check the company’s website.
Partisan gridlock continues to rule in Congress where the broadly supported Shaheen-Portman bill on energy efficiency failed to reach a floor vote in the Senate. Congress also failed to pass tax-credit extensions for the wind and solar power industries.
In June 2014, President Obama announced new Environmental Protection Agency regulations to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. Implementation of the new carbon rules would be left up to the states — providing regional players a significant role in setting policies and programs and making the tracking of state and metro progress all the more critical.
Let’s hope that states continue to act responsibly, while Congress wallows in partisan climate change denial and gridlock.