How to green our region's innovation network
By David Kenney
David Kenney is president and executive director of the Oregon Built Environment and Sustainable Technologies Center known as Oregon BEST.
- Regulatory environment. While the personal computer, Internet, Web 2.0 and other information technologies developed in a largely unregulated environment, clean energy solutions operate in or close to the highly regulated energy industry. Federal and state laws and public utility commissions provide heavy oversight. Water technologies also live in their own world of regulations, and building codes impact the requirements of many energy efficiency or water saving technologies integrated into the built environment. This regulatory climate fundamentally changes the speed and ease with which new clean technologies can go to market.
- Market dynamics. Purchasing decisions for new technologies in the utility industry are often based on financial models that look at decades worth of use from a new piece of equipment — think about hydroelectric dams or transmission lines — not the three to five years that a computer server or Web technology might provide value. Also, driven by the regulations referenced above, purchases of clean energy technologies are often mandated by renewable portfolio standards, federal/state/local incentives or building construction financial models developed decades ago. The value proposition for some clean technologies comes from a combination of cost savings, new revenue streams and the difficult-to-price environmental and carbon mitigation contributions of a product or service.
- Capital needs. Unlike software, most clean technologies need to be transformed into products that must be manufactured — often using processes that haven't been proven at large scale and that can't readily be outsourced to contract manufacturers. Angel and venture investors have historically shied away from startups that require a large capital investment to achieve financial success.
If you are commenting using a Facebook account, your profile information may be displayed with your comment depending on your privacy settings. By leaving the 'Post to Facebook' box selected, your comment will be published to your Facebook profile in addition to the space below.