during the Cold War and War on Cancer eras. The vulnerability exposed by intermittent energy crises coupled with the environmental problem of climate change provides the new battleground in the expected energy revolution of the twenty-first century. Continuing dependence on and use of carbon-based materials for energy, and for products more generally, poses a major threat to the continued socioeconomic well-being of many developed and developing nations around the world. Humanitarian and strategic interests have led many of the world’s major economies to mobilize vast resources in an effort to develop technologies that, if used in combination, might represent a silver bullet for solving economic and environmental problems through a focus on long-term sustainability. Technologies accomplish these goals by controlling and reducing emissions that contribute to climate change while simultaneously addressing the declining environmental quality that has resulted from past development decisions. These so-called clean technologies are the key to more sustainable development trajectories that produce economic, social, and environmental value. Clean development strategies have transformative implications for all of the major sectors of the economy as they make investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency, infrastructure, storage, and transportation.
Defining the Industry and Its Challenges:
- Many business activities today are oriented around the issues raised by climate change. What are the critical environmental concerns driving Cleantech?
- What is a green job anyway? What are the concrete companies and jobs that make up the green sectors of economies?
- Do these examples match existing definitions? How many green jobs are out there?
- What industries and industry sectors lead in the development of clean technology?
- Who are the key Cleantech companies driving and defining the industry today?
- What are the key government policies supporting the Cleantech industry?
- Will small businesses prove to be the real innovators driving the industry forward, or will the greatest advances come from bigger companies learning to “clean up their acts”?
- What are the key technologies defining the Cleantech industry?
Globalization and the Cleantech Market:
- How many countries today can be said to be developing Cleantech industries? What will their role be in the expansion of Cleantech through the world?
- How do approaches to Cleantech differ between countries? Which efforts have been the most successful?
- How does Cleantech benefit lower income groups? How can they benefit more?
- How are patent laws facilitating or blocking global competition between some of the largest Cleantech companies?
- What does the formation of global supply chains for Cleantech teach us about the industry?
Public Policy, Subsidy, and Incentives for Cleantech Innovation:
- What are the key policies incentives, subsidies, or tax credits driving Cleantech businesses around the world?
- Which companies are benefiting the most from government support?
- Which Cleantech sectors are most vulnerable to the loss of government support? Which sectors seem to be driven primarily by business investment?
- Which countries have the most aggressive (expensive) incentives to promote Cleantech? How much are they spending? What are they spending it on?
- Are China’s subsidies unfair? If so, why? What are the correct ways to foster important technological change and competition between nations for emerging markets?
- Is it a good idea for governments to mandate the phase-out of legacy technologies such as the incandescent bulb? What other technologies need to go, and who should decide, anyway?
- How many different environmental quality indicators could be incentivized which might support further Cleantech development? Should there be a focus on environmental rather than economic targets in the formation of Cleantech policy?
The Financialization of Cleantech:
- What are the key sources of finance for Cleantech in established and emerging companies?
- What has been the impact of the financial crisis on the Cleantech industry?
- The financial crisis destroyed many key tax equity investors in the United States. What has been the response of the Cleantech sector so far, and has the usefulness of the investment tax credit(ITC) in an economic downturn shown that the production tax credit (PTC) is not the right instrument for sustainable growth?
Sustainability of Cleantech Business and Innovation Models:
- Why are green products so often “premium”, or more expensive products? Does this characteristic limit their market potential by, for example, making green products “luxuries”?
- Are cap-and-trade market schemes just bubbles in the making, or can a carbon swap promote technological change faster than fair prices and subsidies for Cleantech?
- Cleantech is as much about a shift in current business practices and assumptions as it is about the formation of new businesses. Even so, why have so many companies targeted by environmental programs failed to change? Are they changing? What are companies choosing to integrate (or ignore) into their business practices and product lines?
- Do limitations of rare earths used in the production of certain clean technologies threaten to substitute rare earth dependency for oil dependency?
Important Reading from theAIRnet Researchers:
- William Lazonick and Matt Hopkins, “Soaking Up the Sun and Blowing in the Wind: Clean Tech Needs Patient Capital“, theAIRnet Working Paper #2012-12, December 2012
- Matt G. Hopkins, “The Making of a Champion or, Wind Innovation for Sale: The Wind Industry in the U.S. 1980-2010“, theAIRnet Working Paper #2012-04, April 2012
- William Lazonick and Matt Hopkins, “There Went the Sun: Renewable Energy Needs Patient Capital“, New Deal 2.0, September 23, 2011
Other Important Reading:
- The Intelligent Energy – Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation, “Wind Energy – The Fact“, 2009
- Michael K. Heiman and Barry D. Solomon, ” Power to the People: Electric Utility Restructuring and the Commitment to Renewable Energy”, Annals of the Association of American Geographers 94(1), p.94-116, March 2004.
- Matthias Heymann, “Signs of Hubris: The Shaping of Wind Technology Styles in German, Denmark, and the United States, 1940-1990”, Technology and Culture 39(4), p. 641-670, October 1998.
- Mark A. Delucchi and Mark Z. Jacobson, “Providing All Global Energy with Wind, Water, and Solar Power, Part I: Technologies, Energy Resources, Quantities and Areas of Infrastructure, and Materials“, Energy Policy 39 (2011), p. 1154-1169, 2011.
- Mark A. Delucchi and Mark Z. Jacobson, “Providing All Global Energy with Wind, Water, and Solar Power, Part II: Reliability, System, Transmission Cost, and Policies“, Energy Policy 39 (2011), p. 1170-1190, 2011.
- Kristian H. Nielsen, “Technological Trajectories in the Making: Two Case Studies from the Contemporary History of Wind Power”, Centaurus 52(2010), p. 175-205, 2010