Green Light Distrikt is about entrepreneurship focused on the cleantech sector. GLD U provides cleantech courses . Edited by Chris Williams with frequent guest posts from friends, experts and industry insiders from clusters across the globe. Our goal is to provide a place where cleantech entrepreneurs in various clusters across the globe can learn from one another. Green Light Distrikt is creating the "Hitchikers Guide to Clentech" to provide a resource for cleantech entrepreneurs. Read more
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November 9th, 2010
By the time you are reading this, votes in the 2010 elections will have been cast. As a cleantech groupie, I really hope to be celebrating the defeat of Prop 23 in California and a victory for Deval Patrick in Massachusetts. It’s safe to say, however, that (save for big oil and the military), public sector support for most every industry will be on the wane in 2011, and that includes cleantech. But if my dogs lose this race, I won’t be too worried.
I want to remind you that what drives the clean energy industry are *gasp* clean energy companies! And these businesses have business models. Why do VCs and institutional investors dole out to millions to clean energy companies each year? Not to save the environment, but because they believe simply, that X company will provide them Y return on investment. Companies will have to innovate, bob and weave to get through the next year. But weren’t the best ones doing this already?
My point here is that we need an industry that can stand on its own. Or at least stand on one leg, with states and cities as a stepstool. I say forget about federal initiatives for a while. I hear so much about the (lack of) federal activity on climate, but while we mope, states and cities are paving the way with successful and innovative programs, creating pockets of cleantech activity all across the country.
For America, the sum of local initiatives is bigger than its parts. If you haven’t seen the American Council On Renewable Energy’s (ACORE) 50 state opus Renewable Energy in America, you should check it out, for nothing more than to see the sheer volume of activity happening in every state in the union.
This election cycle may prove to be a blow to cleantech, but I am still bullish on the long term. Nimble entrepreneurs and resilient companies will find a way to make it work. And when, one day, we are finally able to breach the federal climate logjam, even better. But let’s not depend on that right now. Believe me, this industry will be better off down the road for having found a way to thrive on its own.
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