Video: Cleantech Wave Set To Break in San Diego

The San Diego region is already home to more than 200 cleantech companies with more than 40 of them active in the renewable energy space. And if a new initiative led by the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and the CleanTECH San Diego trade organization is successful, the region will soon be much more: a true hub for the renewable energy and cleantech industries, spurring innovation, collaboration and creating jobs in the cleantech space.

Being an industry hub is nothing new for the region. The telecommunications and bio-sciences industries have been calling San Diego home for years. According to Julie Meier Wright, president and CEO of the EDC, the region has a culture of collaboration that is largely responsible for the waves of innovation that the region has experienced over the years.  It is that culture that the organizations hope will help to move renewable energy and cleantech from research to implementation.

“From our standpoint, because we know what the potential is here, CleanTECH San Diego wants to serve the entire industry obviously and it has more than a mild focus on innovation,” she said. “But I think through that we’ll see more of the commoditized side happen in Imperial County, in other words, the production of clean energy for San Diego will be a little bit here in the city, but a lot in Imperial County…and from the San Diego end, what we’d like to own and be a leader in is the cutting edge research that contributes to the resolution of global warming.”

World class research institutions like the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the University of California San Diego are part of the collaborative culture that Meier mentioned. CleanTECH San Diego is becoming the focal point for not only the research sector but also for private industry by providing both new and established companies with the resources they need.

“In addition to the NGO and research communities, we have a very active private sector contingenent. We represent small businesses that are looking for their first round of funding, as well as really large businesses, like Sempra Energy, as well as SAIC and Quallcomm,” said Lisa Bicker, president and CEO of CleanTECH San Diego. “Our large business contingent span from those who are clearly in the energy space like Kyocera to those that are looking to transition their model or are in some phase of transitioning, like Hewlett Packard. And that strength of diversity is really key to our success.”

On a recent tour of the region, got a chance to speak with Mayor Jerry Sanders along with representatives from Scripps, UCSD and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) as well as a number of companies in the area.

Tony Haymet, director of Scripps talked about the ocean energy industry and his hopes for the algae industry.

Steve Relyea, vice chancellor of business development at UCSD offered insight on the university’s solar energy plans and the school’s Sustainability 2.0 initiative.

Mayor Sanders and his staff discussed the city’s plans to implement an AB 811 program, which will allow homeowners in the city to pay for a solar system through their property taxes.

Hal Snyder, vice president of customer programs for SDG&E laid out the utilities plans for renewable energy.

Dan Squiller, CEO of nickel-zinc battery maker PowerGenix told that the technology could eventually be scaled up to work as a grid and renewable energy storage option.

Leif Christoffersen, CEO of Malama Composites said that his company’s biofoam product could be applied to the manufacturing of wind turbine blades, which could both green and lower of the cost of production for blade companies.

To hear more on each of these topics play the video below.

Check back with’s video section over the next few weeks as we publish more from these interviews.

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