On Monday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 100 into law and launched the world’s fifth-largest economy on a path to achieve 100 percent clean energy by 2045 and opened a brave new era of expansion for the clean-energy economy.
As other states examine the California clean-tech experiment and set their own goals, they will find that our state has dispelled the mythology that protecting the environment is bad for business.
California’s expansive sense of possibility gave birth to Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter and Uber, all multibillion-dollar enterprises with a global reach. The ecosystem of talent these companies created, combined with strong state climate policies, is now the garden bed for the coming wave of clean-tech companies that may define this century.
Since 2000, California has reduced emissions by 9 percent while the state’s economy has grown by 46 percent (the rest of the nation’s economy grew by 35 percent), according to the Integrated Energy Policy Report, the state Energy Commission’s annual report on energy planning. Most of these emissions reductions were achieved in the power sector, where California nearly tripled renewable energy production over the last 10 years and now generates 32 percent of its electricity from renewables, contributing to the creation of more than 500,000 jobs in California’s advanced energy economy.
Fortunately, these economic benefits extend beyond big cities to rural areas of the state such as the San Joaquin Valley, which has seen more than $13 billion in net economic benefits since 2000. According to a study from UC Berkeley, construction of new renewable energy projects contributed more than $11 billion to Fresno, Madera, Merced, Kern, Kings, San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Tulare counties. And while home to only 11 percent of California’s population, the San Joaquin Valley accounts for half the wind and a quarter of the solar generation in the state.
New investment in clean-tech startups is an essential indicator to watch. A new analysis by Ken Alston of the California Clean Energy Fund and Jehong Park of the Stanford Graduate School of Business found that in 2013 California received 28 percent of all U.S. clean-tech investment. By 2017, California’s share had increased to 48 percent.
By winning the race for this new capital, California has established itself as the destination state for clean-tech startups. Not coincidentally, this trend coincides with the adoption of some of the strongest clean energy policies in the United States, including new programs to help the state double energy efficiency, transition to a renewable energy future and achieve putting 5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2030.
While President Trump and Congress are in full retreat on the issue of climate change, even as forest fires ravage the American West, California clean-tech investment can play a truly heroic role by allowing the state to push pillars of the economy such as electricity and transportation toward a cleaner future.
Visionary investors willing to invest in taking fledgling clean-technology companies to maturity can now help the market become the most powerful response to President Trump’s misguided coal-and oil-soaked energy policies. For example, with clean transportation companies such as Jump, Bird, Skip and Lime (all homegrown here in the last three years) trying to provide new means to move people and goods the first and last miles of their trip, California is disrupting transportation. As startups, they are expanding globally and growing rapidly with Lime already being valued at more than $1 billion despite being less than 2 years old. All together, a dozen electric vehicle manufacturers have now opened up operations in California
Source: San Francisco Chronicle