The recently released 2014 U.S. Clean Tech Leadership Index from Clean Edge, the research and advisory firm where I am senior editor, finds the U.S. clean-tech market making impressive strides in many areas, while still hampered by inaction and inertia in others. As has been the case in recent years — even with encouraging national-level initiatives from the Obama administration — states and cities continue to be where most of the action is.
Over the past year, supportive policies and aggressive technology deployments from Connecticut to California have made climate and clean-energy related technologies, in particular residential and commercial solar PV, an increasingly popular choice for mainstream America. According to this year’s Index, eleven states generated more than 10 percent of their electricity from clean-energy sources (not including hydro) in 2013, with two, Iowa and South Dakota, exceeding 25 percent. At least eight states now have more than 50 percent smart-meter market penetration, with California topping 70 percent. Registrations for all-electric vehicles, led by the Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volt, more than doubled between the 2013 and 2014 indexes, to nearly 220,000 cumulative registrations nationwide. And 14 states — among them Georgia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania – are each now home to more than 500 LEED-certified commercial green building projects.
On the policy front, leading states and metro areas continue to make climate action and clean-energy expansion a priority. Nearly 30 states offer some form of property assessed clean energy (PACE) legislation, 19 have specific greenhouse gas reduction targets, and 10 operate or are members of active cap-and-trade carbon markets. Net-zero or near-zero energy mandates for buildings, green banks and other effective financing mechanisms, and the nation’s first energy-storage mandate in California are just a few policies implemented in the last 12 months that will drive the future clean-tech growth tracked by the Leadership Index. Read more.