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Back You are here: Home Renewables American cleantech expert praises Asian and European industry leaders

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American cleantech expert praises Asian and European industry leaders

by Elias Kamal Jabbe, Founding Editor of MulticulturalMatters.org

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LOS ANGELES — Clean technology researcher Ron Pernick praised the innovative initiatives that global leaders such as China and Germany have implemented in order to create a more sustainable future in downtown Los Angeles on November 15. The Founder and Managing Director of Clean Edge—a research and consulting firm revolving around clean technology—shared his insight at the LA office of global architecture firm Gensler in an interview with Ted Habte-Gabr, a veteran producer who launched Live Talks Los Angeles to provide a platform for discussing crucial topics.

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Cleantech Champions

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The discussion on clean technology was preceded by an introduction by Shawn Gehle, a board member of Clean Tech Los Angeles and Design Director at Gensler’s LA office. Gehle—whose aforementioned office recently received LEED Platinum Certification from the United States Green Building Council thanks to its eco-friendly design—said he believed his country should become more dedicated to sustainability in order to remain globally competitive.

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“If the US is to remain dominant, as it has in earlier high-tech and internet revolutions, it needs to supercharge cleantech efforts at every level: federal, state, city governments and in schools, small businesses and large companies,” said Gehle.

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Pernick then discussed several examples of American renewable energy success stories, such as South Dakota increasing its wind-generated energy from 5 percent to 22 percent of its total energy between 2009 and 2011. He also pointed out that six states in the US currently depend on wind, solar and geothermal sources for at least 10 percent of their total energy generation and praised the state that he was speaking in.

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“In terms of leadership, California is number one (when it comes to embracing sustainability). California acts almost like its own nation...There are some EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) regulations that allow this state to exceed the national standard (of goals for reducing emissions),” said Pernick, who added that California was aggressively targeting its ambitious goal of depending on renewable energy for 33 percent of its total energy by 2020.

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International Insight

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Though the aforementioned positive news about the US and its effort to embrace renewable energy was highlighted, the conversation between Habte-Gabr and Pernick—who have lived in countries such as Eritrea and Japan—quickly turned global. Pernick’s comments about the drastic advances made by several European and Asian countries echoed Gehle’s earlier point about US competitiveness on a global level and illustrated examples of successful initiatives that decision-makers in the US could learn from.

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“My colleague (and fellow writer) Clint Wilder and I went to China seven years ago (to conduct research for our 2007 book “The Clean Tech Revolution”) and we realized that it was going to be one of the largest influencers of cleantech growth and activity. And sure enough, we were right...China is now the largest solar PV manufacturer in the world and they’re deploying more wind (power) than anywhere else in the world,” said Pernick, before listing several other Chinese accomplishments.

Japan was another East Asian country that was acknowledged by Pernick for its many recent efforts to reduce its carbon footprint after it was a global leader in this regard before slowing down a decade ago.

“Japan is back in play; it really led this (clean energy movement) 15 to 20 years ago. I lived in Japan in the late 1980s...Sharp was a venerable organization (at that time) and one of the first developers of solar PV (photovoltaic) technology. The Japanese—with electric vehicles, hybrid vehicles and solar (energy)—have been a very dominant player (recently),” said Pernick, who explained that the country is determined to eventually shut down all of its nuclear plants after it suffered as a result of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011.

Pernick’s discussion of Asian countries thriving in the cleantech space was complemented by analysis of another major player in a different continent: Europe.

Germany has been a renewable energy leader for more than a decade...It is now targeting 35 percent of its electricity generation from renewables by 2020, and is likely to meet that goal. At the same time, Germany is working to phase out all nuclear power by 2022,” said Pernick.

“In many ways, Germany is acting as a living laboratory for clean energy deployment, with a long-term aim of getting 80 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2050.”

Reality Check

At a time when the concept of “American exceptionalism” is often blindly embraced by some Americans and the substantial accomplishments of other countries are overlooked, Pernick’s presentation of his thorough global research illustrated that the US certainly can learn from several other countries when it comes to implementing clean energy on a larger scale. After stating that the Empire State Building’s 2012 retrofit—expected to lower its energy use by about 50 percent—is an excellent example for other buildings to follow, he explained that many more US states would need to take major steps in order for the entire country to emerge as a global leader in sustainability.

He ended the discussion by encouraging the audience to review free reports about the latest industry trends published on his website CleanEdge.com and added that more information about the role of the US in the global cleantech market was available in “Clean Tech Nation,” his 2012 book which was written with Wilder.

In the midst of Pernick’s discussion of global competitiveness, some of his words transcended countries and cultures.

“In nature, there is no waste. Everything is a feedstock for something else.”

Video of this event is available online courtesy of Emily-Rose Wagner and Ted Habte-Gabr.

Elias Kamal Jabbe is a Los Angeles-based journalist and PR Specialist and the Founder of Multicultural Matters, an online news publication which promotes cultural discovery, sustainability and entrepreneurship. Feel free to connect with Elias via LinkedIn or Twitter.com/Elias213.



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