Opinion: Cleantech important to Northern Nevada’s economic future

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This opinion column was submitted by Mike Kazmierski, President and CEO of the Western Nevada Economic Development Authority.

Cleantech, or clean technology, is an umbrella term referring to a variety of environmentally friendly practices and technologies. Investment in clean technology has grown significantly since the term was first popularized in the late 1990s. Today, clean technology jobs are among the fastest growing in the United States. -United. As we continue to diversify our economy, EDAWN is focusing on several technology sectors, one of which is clean technology. What is clean technology and why is it relevant to our region and our economy?

What is cleantech? Clean technologies are much more than electric vehicles. Often used interchangeably with the term greentech, cleantech has become an umbrella term encompassing clean energy, the environment, and sustainable or green products and services. There are eight main categories of clean technologies, and among these categories, three get the most attention: energy and electricity, agriculture and food, and mobility and transport. For our region, I would add waste and recycling.

Why is clean technology suitable for Réno-Sparks? There are many reasons why we are so well suited to clean technologies. First of all, we are associated with several eco-friendly companies, like Tesla and Ormat. Additionally, we have successfully attracted many clean technology companies developing new ways of producing batteries, recycling batteries and green energy, including biofuels and 100% renewable energy data centers like Switch. . Our thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem is creating new companies that measure emissions or provide cutting-edge recycling technologies that make this sector an attractive cluster that could attract or innovate even more cleantech companies in the future.

As we start off on the right foot, what can we do to seize this opportunity? On the government side, embracing sustainability and finding ways to reduce our carbon footprint demonstrates our support and promotion of clean technologies. Additionally, state support for innovation and start-up activity will fuel the creation of even more cleantech startups. A startup can grow out of existing cleantech companies or grow in the accelerators or innovation centers designed to support their success. EDAWN has already targeted the cleantech sector, and many of the new companies coming to our region are the result of these efforts. These high-paying, high-growth companies are precisely what we need to transition our economy to the kinds of Fourth Industrial Revolution jobs we will need as more of the existing jobs are replaced by automation and AI.

We have a competitive advantage that changes our community and our state. We can do everything here, from lithium mining, battery technology and manufacturing, to end-of-life battery recycling. And that’s only in one category. We have a wealth of green power generation in our state with a 50% renewable energy goal by 2030 and a quality of life that will help attract the talent we need to grow this industry. However, it will also take a concerted effort to improve our education system, emphasizing STEM (STEAM) skills while encouraging innovation and entrepreneurial growth. We are ready to grow this “economy of the future” here and now. Let’s become the cleantech center of the United States or even the world!

Mike Kazmierski is President and CEO of the Western Nevada Economic Development Authority.

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