Skip to toolbar

Top Ten Cleantech Cities around the Globe

As cleantech continues to make its mark around the globe, there are certain cities that are coming out as leaders in the global clean technology industry. These cities provide warm atmosphere for cleantech to expand and enable more to use renewable energy and energy efficient products. Provided here is a list of the top cities that are working to make an impact in the cleantech sector.

1) Copenhagen, Denmark. Copenhagen has made it public that by 2025, they want to be the first carbon-neutral capital. This goal is doable based on Copenhagen’s long-standing tradition of research, development, and investment in clean technologies. It is home to the Copenhagen Cleantech Cluster, one of the largest global clusters dedicated to providing necessary business conditions to aid in cleantech research, development and implementation, the “Sundial,” which is the first fully-carbon neutral building in Denmark, and the International Solid Waste Association. There is also the mandatory green roof policy and Copenhagen Climate Council.

2) Stockholm, Sweden. In 2010, Stockholm, Sweden was awarded the European Green Capital of the Year Award, and it is not hard to see why. The ambitions of Stockholm have led it to try to become the first fossil-fuel free city by 2050. It has already lowered carbon emissions by 25 percent by 1990 levels, 70 percent of energy is run by renewable sources of energy, and more than 25 percent of all its waste is recycled. Stockholm has a number of energy efficient buildings, environmentally friendly transportation systems, and new innovations, such as utilizing excess warmth from the train station to heat an office building located nearby. Stockholm is also home to Hammarby Sjostad, the largest eco-friendly town in the world.

3) Boston, Massachusetts. Boston is said to enjoy some of the most supportive policies in the United States for energy efficiency and renewable energy. After California, Boston is second in clean technology venture capital investments. With an environment that is ripe for cleantech startups, numerous companies are moving their business to Boston. The MIT Clean Energy Prize is a venture and innovation creation competition that encourages clean energy innovation. Its objective is to provide educational opportunities and supply incentives to ventures demonstrating the clean energy affordability. As well, the development of MIT’s cleantech incubator will provide Boston with more access to cleantech flow.

4) Zurich, Switzerland. Zurich has been extremely instrumental in making Switzerland a global cleantech leader due to the large number of sustainable transportation projects, waste management programs, green buildings, and advancements in renewable energy. Zurich is known for its advancements in clean technologies. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, for example, is devoted to the research and development of reliable, secure, and cost effective sustainable energy systems. More support from Zurich can be seen by the Swiss Energy Program, which seeks to provide the platform necessary to reduce carbon emissions and fossil fuel usage. Zurich is also home to some of the top cleantech companies, including MyClimate, Sustainable Asset Management, Swiss Re, and ABB.

5) Tokyo, Japan. Tokyo, capital of Japan, is on the list as having one of the largest carbon footprints. Because of the increasing need to lower greenhouse gas emissions, Tokyo has implemented a number of projects, programs, councils, and initiatives to limit its dependence on fossil fuel sources. This includes the Tokyo Green Building Program and Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies. Tokyo also takes the lead in innovation as a Tokyo manufacturing company created an energy generating floor – it absorbs the energy of foot traffic and converts it into energy used for small energy appliances within the subway, including automatic ticket counters.

6) Berlin, Germany. As the capital of Germany, Berlin has been a global leader within the cleantech economy. It is the main cleantech exporting country and provides an environment that is ripe for cleantech companies, including a favorable exit market, top research centers, and a large number of engineers. The Berlin Solar Atlas Project, Berlin Impulse, and Berlin Energieagentur are just a few of the initiatives Berlin provides. They also have a large number of cleantech industries, including Daimler.

7) San Jose, California. Everyone knows that San Jose is home to the famous Silicon Valley, and has, therefore been very attracting to many cleantech companies. Because of the leadership in know-how, engineers, as well as nanotechnology, optics and semiconductor research and development, San Jose has provided Silicon Valley with a new initiative in renewable energy development, especially in the application of solar energy. A success story out of San Jose’s Silicon Valley cleantech initiative is Sun Power. San Jose is also home to the Environmental Business Cluster, which assists cleantech startups including NuEdison.

8 ) Austin, Texas. Austin, Texas is one of the major American locations for both solar and wind power, as well as research and development into fuel cell and energy-saving technologies. Austin has created numerous initiatives to increase the research, development, and implementation of clean technologies. The Texas Clean Energy Park is housed in Austin and is dedicated to the creation and improvement of cleantech business, education, training, and research. The Pecan Street Project, a partnership between the City of Austin, Austin Energy, University of Texaas, and Austin Chamber, was established to produce a system for energy management that would produce energy equal to a regular power plant using only renewable sources within Austin. Austin showcases a large number of innovation, talent, venture funding, support services, and entrepreneurial culture. According to The Wall Street Journal, Austin ranks third as most inventive city. The incentives Austin provides are numerous, including the Emerging Technology Fund and Texas Enterprise Fund.

9) London, England. London has long since vied to be the European cleantech leader. It is home to Eco Connect – one of the top cleantech clusters around the globe due to its diligence as being a center for cleantech innovation, collaboration, investment, and achievement. London has decided to show off its cleantech aspirations by trying to outdo Vancouver, British Colombia by holding the “greenest Olympics ever” as host of the 2012 Winter Olympics. London has also set up numerous organizations to promote awareness for the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency throughout the country. Renewable Energy Association represents producers of renewable energy and is a voice to the industry, while Renewable Energy Foundation raises awareness within the public sector to use renewable energy and energy efficient products.

10) Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Vancouver is one of the leading cities for cleantech funding, including the Innovative Clean Energy Fund which provides funding for technologies that may be utilized on a commercial level, BioEnergy Strategy which is based on biofuel production, and the Green Infrastructure Fund, which addresses a number of cleantech sectors, including power generation, water and wastewater, and power generation. Vancouver, through a push to become greener, is looking to create more than 20,000 new cleantech jobs by 2020 and reduce landfill waste by over 50 percent. The city has the smallest carbon footprint in North America. Along with strong academic support and its push on creating green buildings, it will soon become one of the greenest cities in 2020.

Article by Shawn Lesser, Co-founder & Managing Partner of Atlanta-based Watershed Capital Group – an investment bank assisting sustainable fund and companies raise capital, perform acquisitions, and in other strategic financial decisions. . He is also a Co-founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association. He writes for various cleantech publications and is known as the David Letterman of Cleantech for his “Top 10” series. He can be reached at