First, Ernst & Young referred to clean technology as the next industrial revolution. Now, Seattle investment firm Cascadia Capital likens sustainable industries to the early years of the Internet, saying in a new report:
"The clean energy sector is going through the same re-birth process. . . We are seeing better companies, better technology, better business models and better executives in this industry every day. We strongly believe that a lot of the companies we see and work with will be well known companies in the 2013-2014 timeframe. Green companies are rising from the ashes."
This shows once again that the clean-energy industry isn't dying as many claim. It is emerging, staggering forward unevenly like a toddler growing up. The implosion of government guarantee-recipient Solyndra wasn't a failure as much as it was a sign of maturation. It couldn't compete and, in business as in nature, the weak are early casualties.
As former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said at current Gov. Jerry Brown's climate conference last week: "All kinds of businesses failed at the same time as Solyndra, but no one hears about that. You make mistakes and you fail. That is the way business is."
Here is more on the conference.
Cascadia notes, as we have many times, that investors, entrepreneurs and researchers have been joined by the big bucks of Corporate America. Companies such as Boeing and Walmart see profit in sustainability. You can bet these large corporations wouldn't be investing in it if they didn't expect rosy returns at the end.
They are saving millions from efficiency measures, such as lighting retrofits that really do pay off (How about $300,000 per year for Canon!). They are boosting their sustainability departments and are joining governments, professional sports and schools in pledging to use more renewable energy. (more here, here and here.)
One of the world's richest men just announced plans to buy into his second gigantic solar farm - this one in Arizona - to complement one in California, a state with the most ambitious renewables mandate in the nation, an equally ambitious cap-and-trade plan and a robust green chemistry program.
Companies are even joining forces with state governments to build new cities dedicated to testing clean energy. Check out this fascinating proposal out of New Mexico, where a whole new kind of company town is in the offing.
Clearly, the green movement is gaining, even if the GOP slate of presidential candidates ignores it. Tom Engelhardt in a TomDispatch.com post entitled, "Restless Planet" calls it the "Fifth Occupation," and claims its already bubbling to the surface, much as the methane is bubbling up from formerly frozen terrain. See this New York Times piece.
"When they stand their ground and chant 'We exist!' in anger, strength, and wonder, maybe then we can really tackle climate change and hope it isn’t too late," he writes. "Maybe the fifth occupation is the one we’re waiting for -- and don't for a second doubt that it will come. It’s already on its way. "
Video: California Gov. Jerry Brown at CODA plant