The need for alternative energies in the 21st century has fostered an entire industry in cleantech. The cleantech sector refers to any renewable energy manufacturers and providers, as well as, any products that increase efficiency in production and distribution of energy. In 2012 the global cleantech industry was valued at $250 billion by Clean Edge, a market authority of cleantech, and is expected to grow to a $400 billion in 2022. Despite these optimistic projections, there are challenges that need to be addressed for full scale implementation. The major gatekeepers to this industry are governments. Prudent policy in the area of cleantech is crucial for this growing industry. Policy initiatives can combat the cost gaps between these technologies and more traditional forms of energy. Policy can also improve infrastructure to accommodate and promote these players. Cleantech is the future, governments however have been hesitant to take action due to high costs and complexities surrounding these issues. We need action now, we need an example to learn from, we need momentum, we need policy.
The Colorado Cleantech Industries Association or CCIA is a statewide, industry-led, organization, that promotes the cleantech industry in Colorado. CCIA believes that Colorado is poised to becoming a global leader in the cleantech industry if we can take advantage of the opportunity. Quoting their website, Colorado’s cleantech industry the fastest growing out of any state with over 300 companies and counting. Colorado is also No. 3 in the U.S. for cleantech venture capital financing and No. 4 in the country for percentage of jobs in the cleantech sector.
The CCIA is a vocal lobbiest at local, state, and federal levels. To promote the growth of this industry they specifically support policy that:
- Accelerates the cleantech research and development pipeline.
- Speeds cleantech technology transfer and support the growth of early stage companies;
- Expands our rich base of management talent able to move cleantech into the marketplace;
- Promotes a business climate that is friendly to cleantech companies, and;
- Supports policy to use all forms of energy, water, waste and more as efficiently as possible.
2013 was a productive year for the CCIA, gaining traction and helping pass 8 proactive state bills that helped achieve these goals. Among these bills there are a couple awesome steps in the right direction. The Advanced Industries Acceleration Act is a major state investment in economic development. As a result, cleantech will receive $2 million dollars in grant money. Grants will also be tiered into 3 categories allowing for funding of various types (seed, early stage and infrastructure). The Renewable Energy Standard graduated Colorado’s energy portfolio goal of 10% renewables by 2020 to 20% renewables. The Special Fuel Tax Electric Vehicle Highway Use Tax Fund, is not only hard to say but promotes and funds electric vehicle infrastructure. In effect it created the Electric Vehicle Grant Fund, estimated to collect over $400 thousand in the the next five years which will be used for charging station build out.
The future for cleantech looks promising and recent developments may signal that it is catching on. This traction is only bound to increase as the world changes and begins to recognize the need for sustainability. These developments could mean massive economic growth for cleantech worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Policy can have a dramatic impact on the speed of these changes and will be the ultimate deciding factor in how we will adapt. Industry lobbyists are often portrayed in a bad light, but in the case of cleantech, they could be able to push agenda’s towards sustainability. Whether or not you think lobbying is a encroachment on democracy, or an unfair advantage, there’s one thing I’ve learned from the world we live in today, money speaks all languages.