Top Ten Reasons Austin, Texas is a Cleantech City

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Austin, Texas has always been a central location for wind and solar power, fuel cell technology, geothermal and biomass resources, and energy-saving sustainable technologies. It has become a major power player within the global energy industry. It has strong commitments to sustainability and the environment, and is ready to make its mark as the clean energy capital across the globe.

1) Renewable Energy Leader. Through the work of Austin, Texas has constantly been not only a national, but a global leader throughout the energy industry and has been one of the prime leaders in renewable energy. Through the $200 million established by the Emerging Technology Fund, energy has become a priority of the state. Texas uses the most wind power of any state and has been increasing its use of biomass and solar energies as well. Currently, more than 2.5 million homes are provided electricity through wind power.

2) Texas Clean Energy Park. Through a private-public partnership the Texas Clean Energy Park was designed as a clean energy campus, based in Austin, that would be devoted the development and improvement in business, education, research, and training within the clean energy industry. This park will span more than 140 energies and provide housing for renewable energy companies and education and research facilities.

3) Austin Energy. For a leader in clean energy programs and conservation, there is no need to look farther than Austin Energy. Their GreenChoice renewable energy program has been delivering over 750 million kWh electricity to both commercial and residential customers. Austin Energy has been instrumental to putting Austin on the national map as the city with the most 100& green-powered businesses. The Austin Energy Green Power Program has been listed as the first in the nation by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

4) Pecan Street Project. Through Austin Energy, the City of Austin, Austin Chamber, University of Texas, and the Environmental Defense Fund, the Pecan Street Project was developed to create a future sustainable energy system. The goal of this project is to create and execute a system for the generation and management of energy that would be able to generate an amount of energy equal to that of a power plant but from clean sources within the Austin city limits.

5) Talent, Innovation, and Incentives. Many companies involved with cleantech come to Austin because of the benefits provided. For example, many companies involved with PV technologies make their home in Austin because of its semiconductor industry. Austin is known for its large amounts of research, entrepreneurial culture, support services, and venture funding. It provides the tools necessary for cleantech companies to grow. The Wall Street Journal has cited Austin as the third highest inventive city. Austin also provides incentives for emerging technologies. This includes the Emerging Technology Find, the Texas Enterprise Fund, and the Central Texas Regional Center for Innovation and Commercialization.

6) Clean Energy Companies. Austin holds some of the largest, most impressive clean energy companies in the United States. This includes HelioVolt, Xtreme Power, Valence Technology, and Green Mountain Energy.

7) Clean Energy Venture Summit. The city of Austin realized that there needed to be a meeting of individuals from around the world to become educated on the current technologies, challenges, business, and advancements made in the field of clean energy. In 2007, they established the Clean Energy Venture Summit along with Austin Energy, the Clean Energy Incubator, and IC² Institute.

8) The University of Texas at Austin. The University provides numerous research expenditures to increase research into renewable energy. The Energy Institute at the university has conducted numerous research programs with a multi-disciplinary approach to pinpoint and overcome technological and scientific barriers to a sustainable energy future. The Center for Electromechanics, in conjunction with the Texas State Energy Conservation Office was developed hybrid-electric automobile programs.Lastly, the Center for Electrochemistry has been creating new PV materials that would make solar power competitive with the much utilized fossil fuels. Austin will also be hosting the UT Energy Forum on February 3-4, 2011 and will bring together leading minds from corporations, academics, policy makers and entrepreneurs to discuss cleantech challenges and opportunities” would work.

9) Partners and Customers. Austin provides businesses with a number of possible partners and customers that would be interested in clean air products. The company Freescale Semiconductor has developed chips that provide emissions management for auto power train systems. This provides a more efficient use of fuel. There are also chips available for industrial environments to reduce their overall energy output. The IBM Research Laboratory in Austin has been involved in the Low Power Initiative to create energy efficiency activities.

10) Clean Energy Incubator. Young clean energy companies need to succeed if they are to impart their research, development, and products on the nation and the world looking for energy efficient options. The Clean Energy Incubator gives these companies the resources and facilities needed to get funding and turn their energy efficient ideas into a reality. Their research and development partnership with the university and Austin Energy has provided Clean Air Incubator the opportunity to assist 150 companies get the necessary funding from investors. These companies have been focused on creating technologies for renewable energy, energy management, storage, and efficiency, distributed resources, power quality, and alternative fuels.

Article by Shawn Lesser, president and founder of Atlanta-based Sustainable World Capital, which is focused on fund-raising for private equity cleantech/sustainable funds, as well as private cleantech companies and M&A. He is also a co- founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association, and can be reached at shawn.lesser@sworldcap.com

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