Massachusetts is one of the most active states, with forward-thinking policies and institutions to support renewable energy development and efficiency programs. Massachusetts is a leader in Cleantech research and VC investment, with many Cleantech startups located in Boston and along Route 128, the state’s “Technology Highway.” Policy goals and incentive programs are increasing demand for Cleantech in the Bay State, leading to new investments and high impact projects to make Massachusetts more energy efficient and more reliant on renewable energy sources.
1) Massachusetts #2 Clean-Energy State in the Country. In 2010 , Massachusetts was second in the nation (behind California) for its work in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and carbon footprint reduction. To deepen its Cleantech profile, Massachusetts has a bold vision for the future, including a center for energy efficiency innovation, further financial incentives for using clean energy, creating a “Green Bank” that would hasten funding for energy efficiency and clean energy projects and start ups, elevating commercialization of advances in clean energy, and strengthening building efficiency regulations and public education on different renewable energy technologies.
2) Investment in Cleantech. Massachusetts is also second only to California in new investment in Cleantech startups. In addition to dedicated Cleantech VCs and newcomers that cut their teeth in IT and biotech investing, major investment also comes from the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust’s $15 million Industry Development Fund. Another foundation is in the works to assist companies that can reduce the reliance on the state electricity grid through off-grid renewable energy sources.
3) Solar Initiative. Massachusetts is a leader in solar power development. More than $68 million has been earmarked for an initiative to promote photovoltaic solar power throughout the entire state. Solar energy is a “key element in growing the clean energy sector of the Massachusetts economy,” says Governor Deval Patrick, whose administration is setting ambitious goals for the state. The solar initiative aims to increase solar power on the grid from 4 MW to 250 MW by the year 2017. The government offers solar renewable energy credits for developers that bridge the gap between production cost and the market price and rebates to businesses and residences that will install solar power during the years of the initiative. Many homes and business are now equipped with a solar power system, saving hundreds of dollars or more a month.
4) Green Jobs Act of 2008. The Green Jobs Act of 2008 was created to provide grant money that would stimulate clean energy businesses, create new employment opportunities in the green sector, as well as job training programs to guarantee anyone can have access to green jobs. The Act also conducts market research to identify any clean energy industry barriers and needs in job training. The Act also established the Alternative and Clean Energy Investment Trust Fund to provide money for three different types of projects: as grants to different clean energy institutions, companies, and nonprofit organizations;, as a grant program for universities, colleges, vocational schools, and community-based organizations with potential or existing workforce development programs in the sector of clean energy, and an initiative to assist in economic self-sufficiency with energy saving techniques.
5) Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. Created as a separate institution in 2008, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, or MassCEC, serves as the main agency in support of the growing clean energy cluster, along the same lines as the state’s very successful Biotech cluster, MassCEC is responsible for promoting further development and installation of different clean energy technologies throughout the state. This impacts the Cleantech sector with its support for advancement in technologies, and benefits residents through job creation and workforce development.
6) Implementation of Policies. Aside from the Green Jobs Act and MassCEC, additional policies are strengthening Massachusetts’ Cleantech sector. The Global Warming Solutions Act is among the strongest legislation for the reduction of greenhouse gases in the United States. It calls for a ten to 25 percent reduction of greenhouse gas levels from the 1990 levels by 2020 and an 80 percent reduction by 2050. The Green Communities Act provides more than $2 billion in private and public investments into the Massachusetts cleantech sector. Massachusetts also joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a Northeast cap-and-trade system that has provided Massachusetts with more than $79 million in carbon credits.
7) Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (CEERE). To assist with the further promotion of Cleantech, CEERE offers economic and technological solutions for various environmental problems that are the result of energy production, land use practices, and industrial, commercial, and manufacturing activities. Their Building Energy Efficiency Program does research and development into building energy efficiency.
8 ) John Adams Innovation Institute. Through the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the John Adams Innovation Institute assists the state in funding and sustaining the ongoing innovation flow necessary for the creation, attraction, and growth of companies in established and emerging industries. Because of its work with technology-related enterprises, the institute has been fundamental in providing funds to many Cleantech industries in the state. This assistance has allowed many renewable energy and energy efficient startups to develop, .
9) MIT Clean Energy Prize and Fraunhofer Institute. The MIT Clean Energy Prize is an innovation and venture creation competition encouraging innovation in clean energy. The aim is to offer learning opportunities and provide rewards to student ventures demonstrating ways in which to increase the affordability of clean energy, as well as make a good impact on the overall environment. The mission is to create the next generation of entrepreneurs in the cleantech sector. The Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems at MIT is the next step in Massachusetts’ Cleantech Eco-system. Fraunhofer CSE independently vets new technological breakthroughs, then matches young scientists with start-up teams, business plan development, VC mentors and incubation space, before helping them raise capital.
10) NEXUS and International Green Technology Trade Center. As technology leaves the university lab, start-ups are formed, incubated then capitalized and finally come to market, Massachusetts is also a leader in commercialization of new green products and services. The NEXUS Green Building Resource Center is a non-profit dedicated to expanding education for professional contractors, interior designers and other practitioners, with a 9,000 square foot exhibit hall and learning center full of new technology demonstrations, LEED-AP training and a wide network of experts to make green advances more accessible to the community. The International Green Technology Trade Center, or “GreenTrade128,” aims to bring that concept to the next level, developing an innovative 60,000 square foot permanent trade show and conference facility, with office-showrooms for up to 250 emerging and established Cleantech companies to operate on-site and a high-profile marketing program built around specialist education, qualified sales and green networking events to bring technology to market.
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 email@example.com