California Economy Depends on Green Energy

By Matt Baume
|  Wednesday, Jan 12, 2011  |  Updated 7:15 AM PDT
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California Economy Depends on Green Energy

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HUSTAI NATIONAL PARK, MONGOLIA - JUNE 18: Solar panels in use by the Ger Community in the Hustai National Park buffer zone, located 100km south west of the capital city Ulan Baator on June 18, 2006 in Hustai National Park, Mongolia. Mongolia celebrates its 800th birthday this year. (Photo by Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images)

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A portrait of California's economic future is emerging, and it's heavy on the green.

In 2010, the worldwide investment in green energy topped $243 billion, up 30 percent from the previous year, according to Grist.

The US is at risk of being outpaced by countries like China, which increased its green energy investment significantly last year. European wind and solar companies also made great strides.

But the Bay Area is poised to capture at least some of that market. Numerous automotive innovators are located near San Francisco. That includes Tesla, which has sold about 1,500 of its cars and is planning to produce a new model at a plant in Fremont.

In Santa Rosa, Zap produces cheap electric trucks and vans, and Columb in Campbell produces electric charging stations, according to the Gate.

Of course, even an electric car is still a car, and comes with a slew of decidedly un-green costs like highways, parking lots, and accidental death and dismemberment.

Biofuels are also seen as a potential growth industry. That emerging field would grow plants to convert into fuels. Biofuel leaders include Joint BioEnergy in Emeryville, which recently received $125 million from the Department of Energy, according to the CC Times.

Obstacles remain to developing truly lucrative green industries. Many companies rely on large government subsidies in order to operate, and analysts say that they'll need to become self-sustaining and reduce their reliance on taxpayers.

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