Report: Top 10 clean-energy states identified

Comprehensive study looks at policy, patents, capital, and cars to determine which states are experiencing biggest green-tech renaissance.

Candace Lombardi
In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.
Candace Lombardi
3 min read
Clean Edge

Policy promoting green technology may be on the rise, but does that translate into well-developed technology--and, most importantly, more capital--for the states promoting it?

The results of an extensive study released Wednesday by consulting firm Clean Edge offers some answers.

The survey used more than 3,500 data points and 70 major indicators drawing from both municipal and private data sources to evaluate all 50 states in the U.S. for how well they did on policy, technology, and capital when it came to green tech.

Factors for evaluating each state included: the amount of green-tech related patent activity; the amount of green-tech venture capital being invested; the number of alternative fuel, electric, and hybrid vehicles registered in the state; and the percentage of electricity produced from clean sources.

The results are a combination of surprise and predictability with the following states being ranked in the Top 10 overall for leading in green tech:

  1. California
  2. Oregon 
  3. Massachusetts
  4. New York
  5. Colorado
  6. Washington
  7. New Mexico
  8. Minnesota
  9. Connecticut
  10. Vermont

The study also found that it pays to be green.

California, which has some of the most progressive environmental policies and aggressive incentives in the U.S., also has the most money for backing up all those green-tech projects and companies. The state attracts more green-tech venture capital than all the other states in the U.S. combined.

When it came to clean-energy leadership, California again led the pack:

  1. California
  2. Massachusetts
  3. Oregon
  4. Colorado
  5. New Jersey
  6. Connecticut
  7. New York
  8. Maryland
  9. Washington
  10. Minnesota

Clean Edge evaluated states based on regulatory and financial incentives, knowledge capital, economic development, and workforce development. But even Massachusetts, apparently, suffers from NIMBYism, the consulting firm said as it pointed out the state's weaknesses in a special report prepared for the state.

"Key barriers to clean-energy leadership that Massachusetts must address include the state's high costs of living and doing business; limited natural resources for clean energy; the lack of a national, DOE-sponsored energy lab; permitting delays and local NIMBYism; and a less robust innovation-to-commercialism track record than some other states, particularly California," Clean Edge said in its report.

No doubt Clean Edge was referring in part to the Massachusetts-based Cape Wind Project that has been trying to get permits and approvals from regulators for an offshore wind farm off the coast of Nantucket for almost a decade.

Iowa still shines when it comes to wind power.

As the American Wind Association has pointed out, it's Iowa that leads the nation in wind energy reliance, getting more than 15 percent of its total electricity from wind energy, followed by North Dakota with 12 percent, and California with 10 percent.

Oklahoma, meanwhile, last year had the most new electric vehicle registrations of any state in the U.S. The statistic is largely attributed to the fact that two of the largest car rental companies in the U.S. have the majority of their cars registered in Oklahoma and have a large number of EVs in each of their fleets.

Updated at 11:35 a.m PT with correction regarding EV registrations in Oklahoma.