On June 25, NASEO released a new report analyzing ways the nation and State Energy Offices advance clean energy technology research, development, demonstration, and deployment. The report titled, "States and Cleantech Innovation: An Examination of State Energy Offices' Roles in Clean Energy Technology-Based Economic Development" finds that state involvement and leadership are crucial in the growth of a vibrant cleantech sector that successfully brings technologies to market, lowers energy costs, and strengthens U.S. economic leadership.
"As the United States continues to grapple with the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, states can set a long-term direction for recovery and growth by continuing to invest in technology innovation, STEM, and workforce initiatives," noted David Terry, NASEO Executive Director. "This report shows that the State Energy Offices have the tools, convening power, and creativity to design impactful programs and investments that support innovators. It also makes clear the critical importance of state-federal partnerships in accelerating the growth of clean energy businesses."
Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES) Forum, which advances responsible clean energy solutions that are actionable, market-friendly, and responsible, sponsored the report and served on the Advisory Group that informed its findings. "America has always met the world's most difficult challenges through innovative thinking and hard work," said Heather Reams, Executive Director of CRES Forum. "We know that investment in clean energy innovation can provide exponential returns in new, highly skilled, U.S. jobs, and fuel the advancement of beneficial new technologies for years to come. By shining a spotlight on what's happening at the state level, this report provides critical insight into what's being done, what's working, and what is still needed to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to participate in rebuilding our economy and transitioning to a clean energy future."
Select themes discussed in the report include:
Private sector and federal action in innovation is critical, but alone insufficient, in advancing clean energy technologies at scale. State policy and program support creates business and policy environments that are conducive to research advances, commercialization, and market deployment.
While states should not favor individual companies, they can help create a business and policy environment conducive to cleantech innovation by applying "technology-based economic development" principles, which promote the generation of new knowledge and research, link ideas and innovations to the marketplace, enhance the workforce, and address gaps where public funds, expertise, and technical assistance are needed.
Enhancing State Energy Office coordination with federal and private sector cleantech investments offers multiple potential benefits, including heightened understanding of state and local policy and market conditions that may affect energy technology markets and commercialization opportunities, greater support for technology incubation and acceleration, and increased ability to leverage state-level investments, financing, and incentives for promising emerging technologies.
Women, minorities, and people from disadvantaged communities are less likely to be represented in the high-tech workforce, including in cleantech, and especially at the executive level. States can partner with mission-driven investment and economic development organizations to address unequal access to capital and bias in investment, recruitment, and advancement decisions, among other factors contributing to racial and gender disparities.
The full report, as well as additional information about State Energy Offices' roles in energy technology innovation, are available at https://naseo.org/issues/technology-innovation.