Looking Ahead To 2011: Clean Technology

Clean Technology on Display in Spokane, WA

It’s that time of year: all the “Top 10 of 2010” and “Best of the Decade” lists will start to pop up (if they haven’t already) and we’ll all be looking back on 2010 and the past decade.

Here at GSI, we’re looking ahead. More specifically (way more specifically, that is), let’s look ahead to some clean technology trends we should all keep an eye on in 2011 for the state of Washington. Tom Ranken, President and CEO of Washington Clean Tech Alliance, touched on ten clean tech trends for 2011 earlier this month for TechFlash.

(By the way, Ranken will be in Spokane on Jan. 11 to speak at our CLEEN NW Meeting. Join us.)

Washington is already a very green state, both figuratively and literally. In 2009, Business Facilities Magazine ranked Washington No. 1 for Quality of Life, and No. 2 for Greenest State.

Here are his trends for clean tech in 2011 according to Ranken, along with some thoughts and comments from us.


1. Moses Lake BMW Factory

Our comments: Of course, we’d like to have this factory in the Spokane area, but we’re happy that Moses Lake will see an influx of jobs and opportunities. Economic development in one part of the state spreads to other parts. In addition to the construction jobs, the workers hired in Moses Lake could bring some money our way with day or weekend trips to Spokane.

2. Biofuels

Our comments: Heard of the “Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest” project? This project, with the help of Alaska Airlines, Boeing, the Port of Seattle, the Port of Portland, Spokane International Airport and Washington State University, “will look at biomass options within a four-state region as possible sources of creating renewable jet fuel.” Since the aviation industry is huge in Washington, biofuels will be extremely important to the success of this project and the future of clean technology in Washington.

3. Green Building

Our comments: Is your building green? McKinstry’s new building in Spokane sure is. There are incentives for upgrading the energy efficiency of buildings, plus, it just makes sense. If we have the opportunity to pay a lower utility rate, why not build green? Washington can really differentiate itself if more green buildings are built.

4. Political Climate

Our comments: Changes at the federal level really do affect our state. With Republicans in control of the House, Democrats in control of the Senate, and a Democrat in the White House, the common belief is that there will be gridlock when it comes to clean tech advances, meaning the clean tech industry could see some consequences. We all shall wait and see.

5. Washington State Budget Woes

Our comments: It’s no secret the state budget is in a crisis. Clean tech initiatives could take a hit, greatly slowing progress. Slowing clean tech progress is nothing but bad news for innovation in our state. Let’s hope things can be fixed.

6. Composite Building Materials

Our comments: Reusing any kind of materials in a positive way that would normally go to a landfill is a good idea to us. NewWood in Elma, WA is at the forefront of this practice.

7. Electric Vehicle Charge Stations

Our comments: We have one right here in Spokane! Electric cars will reduce our dependence on oil, and being the leaders in this movement will help our state’s economy going forward.

8. Washington Smart Grid Leadership

Our comments: Avista and Itron are the leaders in our region for this impressively innovative practice of controlling your energy usage from a computer. In fact, in 2009, Clean Edge Inc. ranked Spokane as a “City of Expertise for Smart Grid Technology” (page 7). The other cities? Rome, Miami and Zug, Switzerland. Pretty good company.

9. Geothermal Exploration

Our comments: Alternative energy is a hot topic, and geothermal is just the latest in a list of non-oil resources. Spokane – and much of Washington – is blessed with hydropower. But who’s to say the price won’t increase someday? Geothermal might be another alternative.

10. Unpredictability

Our comment: Ranken said that he, “predicts the unpredictable.” He’s right. Who knows what could happen with our economy, our political climate and lots of other things. Ranken says clean technology is moving fast, so don’t be surprised if other innovations arise. We think that’s a good thing. Ideas are good to share. If there was no idea sharing, Washington would be stuck in a previous era. Thankfully, we’re among those leading the way.

For more on Clean Technology in Spokane, check out our CLEEN NW site.


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