Clean Technology Can Refuel NW Economy
Recently, the Washington Clean Technology Alliance announced the winners of the Pacific Northwest Clean Tech Open – an annual contest of clean tech start-ups. While the winners were impressive, the overall innovation represented among all the contenders spoke volumes about what is possible for the region’s economy through the development of clean technology.
From the development of technology that uses solar power to charge power-hungry technology like tablets and cell phones, to advances in bio-fuel generation, to innovations that will make green building more affordable, clean, smart technological innovations have the power to make the Pacific Northwest the leader in clean technology, just as we’ve been the leader in other sectors such as aviation and software.
Importantly, clean technology – such as renewable energy – is creating significant positive economic impact. A recent article in Grist explained that the solar power industry currently employs more people than the steel industry.
To create the opportunity that fulfills clean technology, what needs to change in our region? Some changes are already taking place. To help ensure we develop the talent needed to drive clean technology, Washington STEM is leading the charge to strength science, technology, engineering and math education in state schools – from kindergarten to post-graduate. This effort has attracted a wide range of supporters, from elementary school teachers to Bill Gates.
Some have expressed concerns about the possible loss of clean tech jobs to China. Others have doubted the validity of clean technology all together. However, advances in our region seem to point to two distinct possibilities: that clean technology can drive our economic future, and that the Pacific Northwest’s long history of innovation can light the way.