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California leads green tech funding, reduces greenhouse emissions

April 19, 2012|By Ronald D. White

California has had remarkable success in extending its national lead in clean technology, using it to help fuel the state’s economic rebound and drive its effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions, even as its population continues to grow.

Those are some of the findings of the 2012 California Green Innovation Index, released by the nonpartisan nonprofit group Next 10 and compiled by Collaborative Economics. The fourth edition of the index shows California setting the pace in venture capital investment, clean tech patent registration, energy productivity levels, and renewable energy generation levels.

Investments in green tech companies based in California rose 24% between 2010 and 2011 to $3.5 billion, the report said.

California also leads in clean tech patent registrations, filing 910 between 2008 and 2010. The number of solar and battery patents filed represented 41% and 21%, respectively, of all clean tech patents filed nationwide.

“Venture capital investment and patent filings are two economic indicators that signal positive future growth in terms of jobs and businesses,” said Next 10 founder F. Noel Perry. "California’s commitment to an economy that is cleaner will also give us an economy that is stronger.”

This edition of the index placed a special emphasis on the development of the solar power industry in California, noting that the state pulled in $1.2 billion, or 62% of all venture capital funding invested in the U.S. in 2011.

Also in 2011, California passed 1,000 megawatts of installed solar capacity, an amount high enough to make it a leader among nations, the index said.

One of the most impressive findings, said Doug Henton, chief executive of Collaborative Economics, was that carbon emissions fell during a period in which the state's population was rapidly expanding.

By 2009, the index said, California was already producing 28% less carbon emissions than it did in 1990 for every dollar of gross domestic product (GDP) it was generating. During that same period, the state's population grew by 8 million residents, to about 37.6 million.

“California was a first adopter of energy efficiency and carbon emission reduction measures," Henton said. "and our state continues to be a clean tech innovator. By setting the market rather than chasing it, today California’s leadership is paying off in the form of investment, innovation, and growth."

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