Book Review: The Clean Tech Revolution

Ethical investing, which encompasses environmentally friendly investing, is becoming increasingly popular. And, while the stock market is somewhat bullish, people are feeling more friendly towards investments that haven’t quite “made it” yet. But according to “The Clean Tech Revolution,” so-called environmentally friendly investments may be the wave of the future.


Photo:newyorkannie, Creative Commons, Flickr

“The Clean Tech Revolution,” a collaborative effort by Clean Edge (a research and publishing firm) members Ron Pernick and Clint Wilder, takes a very logical and measured look at the future of clean technology and the opportunities that could be available to investors. The book lays out a case for clean tech, and why it looks to be a viable sector, starting right from the introduction:

“As an investor, do you believe that we’re going to take climate change seriously in terms of legislation?” asks Mark Trexler, president of Trexler Climate + Energy Services, a firm in Portland, Oregon, that advises companies and utilities on carbon-reduction strategies. “If you do, then figure it into your investment decisions. If you’re right, you’ll be way ahead in the long run. To completely ignore it, in terms of investment decisions, would be a terrible thing.”

Organized by sector (solar energy, wind power, biofuels and biomaterials, green buildings, personal transportation, smart grid, mobile technologies, water filtration), the book offers an organized look at the opportunities in the main sectors of clean technology. At the end of each chapter, the book also includes 10 companies to watch for in sector. Not only is it easy to understand, but the book includes interesting sidebars on consumer items of interest, as well as breakthrough opportunities for the investor.

The book also includes examples of strides that have already been made in the clean tech revolution, such as homes that utilize solar panels and clean mobile technologies used by U.S. soldiers in the hills of Afghanistan. One of my favorite sections was the chapter titled “Smart Grid.” This chapter addressed the necessity of updating the power grid and providing smart appliances and power sources that give energy back to the electric. “The Clean Tech Revolution” makes it very clear that our outdated power grid should be a thing of the past:

As we’ve learned all too well with recent large-scale blackouts, the current grid is no longer suited to the needs of an information-driven and security-conscious society that requires always-on energy with a high level reliability.

The need, the book points out, is there. And the technology is already here, or just a few years away.

But “The Clean Tech Revolution” isn’t just a rosy picture of the future investment opportunities offered by clean technology. The book is careful to point out that this revolution isn’t like the tech bubble of the 1990s. Rather, the clean tech revolution has been coming on gradually, and will continue to build over the next two or three decades. Investing in clean tech is about finding opportunities now, and then holding. Problems and hurdles to clean tech exist and the authors seem to think that it is possible for the revolution to be slowed (or even stopped in some sectors) due to some of the issues (read: politics and funding) that bog down clean technology. The book wraps up by sharing a strategy for marketing the idea of clean technology to the masses.

Overall, this book was interesting and insightful. It provides a good overview of what opportunities might be available in environmentally friendly investing in the coming years, and as a result is a great research tool.

Title: The Clean Tech Revolution
Authors: Ron Pernick and Clint Wilder
Publisher: Collins (imprint of HarperCollins)
Pages: 285
Price: $26.95, hardcover

Disclosure: I am actively pursuing environmentally friendly investing opportunities.

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