California continues to lead nation in green technology

When it comes to the green technology sector, there’s California and then there is everyone else.

The state has managed to reduce per capita greenhouse gas emissions even as its economy and population have grown, according to Next 10, the San Francisco nonprofit group that has produced the California green innovation index for the last five years.

In its just released 2013 report, Next 10 said the state continues to be the national leader in areas such as venture capital funding for green technology, green tech patents and the growth in clean power generation.

Next 10 founder F. Noel Perry said that “the big take-away from all of this is that California’s green energy economy is diversifying, advancing and helping generate positive economic activity.”

“Clean tech patents are rising,” Perry said. “Clean economy jobs are growing, and California ranks among the most efficient and least carbon intensive economies in the world.”


It’s some positive economic news for the state with the worst unemployment rate in the nation, which remains at a stubborn 9.8%. Through January 2011, Next 10 said there were 176,000 “core clean economy” private sector jobs in the state. That was an increase of about 5,000 jobs compared with January 2008, making it one of the few sectors that has seen a rise above pre-recession figures.

California also leads the nation in the number of advanced biofuel production companies.

In power generation, Perry said, “California continues to be a world leader.” In 2011, renewable energy was responsible for 14.5% of the state’s electrical power generation, up 39% since 2002.

Perry said that the biggest reason for the increase in clean energy was a fourfold increase in wind power generation, which was enough to catapult California ahead of Iowa and into second place in the U.S., behind Texas.

In terms of research and product innovations, California is a world leader by a remarkable margin, said Doug Henton, chief executive of Collaborative Economics Inc.

“Patents are a good measure of where the innovation is coming from,” Henton said.

California saw a 26% increase in patent registrations in 2011 from 2010, Henton said.

“California companies obtained 913 clean-tech patents in that period,” Henton said. “The next best state, New York, obtained 427 clean-tech patents.”

Silicon Valley continued to attract the biggest percentage of venture capital funding in California, with 43%, or $1.1 billion, of the $2.6 billion received in 2012. That was a fairly substantial drop from the more than $3.7 billion in venture funding in 2011. But that was still a substantial share of the $4.4 billion in venture capital funding nationwide and of the $6.5 billion raised worldwide.

That Northern California tech center was followed by Orange County, which pulled in $570 million in 2012; San Diego County, with $340 million; and Los Angeles County, with $106 million.