2013 California Green Innovation Index

The 5th edition of the California Green Innovation Index shows that clean technology patent registrations and energy productivity are growing, clean economy jobs continue their post-recession recovery, and the state's carbon intensity continues to drop.

California is known for being at the forefront of innovation, spurring change in industries of all shapes and sizes. The clean technology sector is no exception, with California leading the way in technology and policy breakthroughs in energy efficiency, clean transportation, and renewable energy. By growing its clean technology economy, California demonstrates that economic prosperity and environmental protection are not mutually exclusive concepts.

California’s clean technology sector has shown resilience even during the recent recession, with continued innovation and deployment of products and services while becoming more diverse and mature. Innovation in clean technology, a key component to growing the sector, is a shared responsibility and results from the interactions among government, the private sector, and individuals. As one breakthrough triggers another, momentum grows, and the innovation process advances.

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  • Per capita emissions continued to fall in 2010, tracking a 17 percent drop since 1990 and a two percent decline from 2009 to 2010.
  • Between 2010 and 2011, clean technology patent registrations in California increased by 26 percent, outpacing the growth of clean tech patents throughout the U.S. (10%) and in the rest of the world (5%).
  • Between the year periods of 2008-2009 and 2010-2011, California's solar patents more than tripled, securing the state's position as the undisputed leader in solar patents in the U.S.
    • In the most recent 2010-2011 period, the next eight highest states' solar patents combined add up to the level of California's photovoltaic patents alone.
    • California is also the top state for patent registrations in the water, batteries, and energy infrastructure sectors.
  • Renewable electricity generation grew 28 percent between 2007 and 2011, surpassing 41,000 gigawatt-hours (GWh) in 2011.
    • The majority of this overall jump can be attributed to wind generation, which doubled over the same time period.
  • Energy productivity (GDP produced for each unit of energy consumed) increased by nearly two percent from 2009 to 2010, even as the same measure declined by about one percent for the rest of the United States.
  • Overall public and private investment in clean technology dropped 42 percent to $3.75 billion in 2012, returning to 2008 levels, due to factors including market uncertainty, changes in national policy, and the maturation and consolidation of companies in the sector.
    • At the same time, some sectors, including clean transportation, received large increases in funding. Investment in that segment grew 44 percent from 2011 to 2012, reaching nearly $1 billion.
  • Silicon Valley continues to attract the most clean technology venture capital in California, with 43 percent ($1.1 billion) of the total ($2.6 billion) in 2012. 
  • Orange County surpassed the San Francisco Region (without Silicon Valley) in 2012, with 22 percent ($570 million) of clean technology venture capital investments in California.
  • The San Diego Region received $340 million in venture capital in 2012, an 80 percent increase from 2011.

Top clean economy jobs findings include:

  • Through January 2011, jobs in the Core Clean Economy expanded nearly three percent from pre-recession (January 2008) levels, whereas overall economy jobs were still down about two percent compared to pre-recession levels.
  • More recently, jobs in the Core Clean Economy increased at a rate of 1.2 percent while total statewide employment expanded by 2.2 percent between January 2010 and January 2011 (the most recent observable period).
  • Over ten years, from January 2011 to January 2011, jobs in the Core Clean Economy grew four times faster than the total state economy.
  • The Bay Area, including Silicon Valley, boasts the highest share of California clean economy jobs as of January 2011, with 30 percent (52,555) of the state's total (176,000), along with the highest concentration of jobs in the Energy Generation, Energy Infrastructure, Green Building and Advanced Materials segments.
  • Core Clean Economy jobs in the Inland Empire and San Joaquin Valley regions grew fastest when compared to other regions between January 2001 and January 2011 (59% and 57%, respectively).
  • Jobs in the Sacramento Core Clean Economy grew the fastest overall more recently (January 2010 to January 2011). Jobs rose ten percent, with jumps in Advanced Materials and Air & Environment segments.