30 July 2007

Clean Tech: The Clean Tech Revolution, Reviewed

"Remember President Jimmy Carter by the fireside in his cardigan sweater in 1978, urging Americans to turn down their thermostats?" asks Ron Pernick and Clint Wilder in Clean Tech Revolution: The Next Big Growth and Investment Opportunity, published last month by Collins. "Wipe that image from your memory banks."

Today's clean tech is not about "cutting back and 'going without'," but about "doing everything we already do, but doing it cleaner, smarter, better," argue the authors, who also write the popular Clean Edge web site and manage the leading research and publishing firm of the same name. They argue that this revolution is less about going green than about building the biggest potential multi-billion dollar industry on the horizon.

The book is a resource for gap investors (if you're not into clean tech already, you're behind the curve), potential entrepreneurs, recent business school grads, and consumers who want a quick study of what's been going on in this space.

While the audience is broad, Pernick and Wilder do a good job explaining the basics and setting the stage for what they see as the most promising ideas and businesses out there.

The trouble with a book like this, however, is that the industry is moving at the light speed and printer's ink still runs slow as molasses. The clean tech landscape is changing so fast that a traditional book quickly goes out of date. The authors' Clean Edge and Clean Tech Revolution sites, along with Tyler Hamilton's Clean Break blog, will continue to be essential. They are closely watching this space and have learned how to spot the trends and pitfalls.

Pernick and Wilder have an easy, engaging style that has adapted well from web to print. While at times it seems their enthusiasm for this space gets the better of them -- my "booster" alarm went off more than once -- in the end, the book is well organized and useful for its insights.

The various sectors in the clean tech space -- wind, solar, biofuels, etc. -- are given their own chapters and companies to watch are listed at the end of each, which proves a handy reference.

In addition, the authors identify what they see as "Breakthrough Opportunities" throughout, such as "Building-integrated Wind," "Integrated Photovoltaics," "LED Lighting," and "Automated Meter Readers." And each chapter ends with a consumer-focused sidebar highlighting a couple of next stage products or services to watch.

"We'll look back at the beginning of the 21st Century and see it as the tipping point for clean technology," the authors write Let's hope the authors are right.

Meanwhile, if you're looking for a primer on the clean tech space, look no further than Ron Pernick and Clint Wilder's Clean Tech Revolution.

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