Monday, April 09, 2007

Green Tech

In what should be a tremendous opportunity for our region, public leadership has the opening to partner with private in the development of a venture atmosphere around green technology that may lead the nation; and properly taking care of our major green area, the American River Parkway, should be playing a central role in that development.

Green tech touted as red-hot option for the region
Sacramento could be in line to be leading pro-environment burg.
By Clint Swett - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PDT Monday, April 9, 2007

In the nearly three decades since Hewlett-Packard Co. and Intel Corp. set up shop in the Sacramento area, the region has yet to amass the technology heft that many envisioned.

But rather than aspiring to become Silicon Valley East, the region is now vying for a different title: Green Acres.

Given the push for so-called green technology -- environmentally friendly and energy efficient -- the area has the necessary ingredients to become a national leader, experts say.

"I think green tech in general represents a huge growth opportunity," said Tony Perkins, founder of Red Herring magazine, who's hosting a green-tech symposium in Davis in September.

"I am very bullish on the Sacramento region as a budding (green-tech) innovation center," he said, "and firmly believe this opportunity bodes very well for long-term economic growth and job creation."

The green-tech industry is exceedingly broad, encompassing such diverse industries as power generation, automobiles, building materials and agriculture.

And investors are backing their optimism for its future with plenty of cash, both here and around the world.

In 2006, venture capital funds invested more than $270 million into Sacramento and Bay Area clean-energy companies, more than double the $123 million a year earlier, according to Dow Jones VentureOne, which tracks VC investments. And the state's two major pension funds, CalPERS and CalSTRS, have earmarked nearly $1 billion combined for green investments.

More than 60 local companies are already in place, with technologies running the gamut from ethanol production to solar panels to hydrogen fuel cells.

But Sacramento isn't alone in maneuvering to become a clean-energy hub. San Jose, Berkeley, Pasadena, Boston and Austin, Texas, are among the contenders for the crown, according to Sustain Lane, a San Francisco green-energy research firm.

No single region, however, has muscled into the lead, said Warren Karlenzig, Sustain Lane's chief strategy officer. "I think Sacramento has as good a chance as anyone right now," Karlenzig said.