Smart Energy Voices- Episode 29

Smart Energy Voices- Episode 29

The Future of Clean Tech Investing

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In this episode, John speaks with Ron Pernick, the founder and managing director of Clean Edge. Ron has over 30 years of experience in high-tech sectors, the last 20 of which have been in clean tech. He founded Clean Edge to be an analyst organization focused on this emergent sector. Since 2001, they’ve collected and processed data from dozens of successful clean tech organizations. Find out how this information can be used to invest in the future of clean tech.

You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in...

  • Ron Pernick’s career trajectory [1:55]
  • The beginning of Clean Edge [8:58]
  • How did Ron get involved with stock indexing? [12:13]
  • The future of clean tech adoption [19:37]
  • What surprised Ron about his past predictions? [24:11]
  • Growth predictions for 2030 [27:00]
  • What’s required for a grid transformation? [31:26]
  • Volatility in clean-tech stocks [40:25]
  • Ron’s points of pride in his career [44:45]

Clean technology as a passion

Ron had been drawn to clean energy since he was in college. At that time, clean energy was known as appropriate technologies or alternative energy and the world wasn’t quite ready to jump on board. Ron began his career in technology and communication, building his knowledge-base for what he wanted to do one day. In Japan, he helped with electronic data for video conferencing. That’s when he started becoming familiar with emerging technologies and innovation. It was through those experiences that he was able to start gathering contacts and support. After years of persistence, Ron was following his passion for clean tech.

Inspiration for Clean Edge

On his way home from a conference in Geneva in 1999, Ron created the idea for Clean Edge. He wanted it to be modeled after other internet analyst companies but on a smaller scale. In 2001, Clean Edge was established. They wrote the first report for San Francisco’s Clean Tech Initiative in 2004 and aided in the Clean Tech Investors Summit. Now they are fully focused on stock indexing. This is where Clean Edge truly shines, which is reflected by their unique relationship with NASDAQ. Clean Edge is now working on indexes that focus on other facets of the industry including clean energy, transportation, storage, electric grid, and water.

Where is clean-tech going next?

Clean tech is growing rapidly alongside clean energy. Due to the competitive nature of the energy industry, the cost of clean tech is reducing. Clean tech is also the most economic option. In 2020, $500 billion in investments was surpassed for the first time ever. Public support through corporations, governments, and public opinion is helping continue the momentum. New policies are being established that support low carbon emissions, net-zero, and a wider understanding of clean energy. Clean tech is highlighted in the movement for an electricity smart grid. All of this leads to immense possibilities.

Clean Edge seeks out companies that are driving the change and categorizes them in ways that make sense. The information Clean Edge provides is invaluable to those who are looking for past performance statistics of clean tech companies. The data they collect and organize is used by other entities to attempt to determine possibilities. For those in the job market, clean tech offers a lifetime of opportunities. For the world, clean tech is the future.

Resources mentioned in today's episode

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Connect with Ron Pernick

Ron Pernick is the founder and managing director of Clean Edge, Inc., where he oversees the development and production of the company’s thematic stock indexes tracking clean energy, transportation, water, and the grid. Financial products tracking the firm’s energy transition and sustainable infrastructure indexes exceed $3 billion in assets under management (as of January 2021). Ron is also the co-author of two books on clean-tech business and innovation, Clean Tech Nation (HarperCollins, 2012) and The Clean Tech Revolution (HarperCollins, 2007).

Ron co-authored the first report to identify the business and financial opportunities of clean technology (Clean Tech: Profits & Potential, 2001) and has since helped to popularize the term and advance the sector. He has taught MBA-level clean-tech innovation courses at Portland State University and New College and is a regular speaker at industry events. Prior to Clean Edge, Ron worked in the high-tech and telecommunications sectors. He holds a BA from Michigan State University, including a year of international studies at Konan University in Kobe, Japan.

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