Blog Post

Oregon: An undercover cleantech player

EarthTechling, a consumer-focused green technology news and information website, takes great pride in the fact we are based in Portland, Oregon. Our editor-in-chief, Nino Marchetti, presents why his locale in the Pacific Northwest is one of the best for the clean technology industry.

Is Oregon the next promised land for clean technology? The Beaver State has, in recent years, been trying to position itself as a major player in regard to support for green energy, electric vehicle development and more. In fact, some say it could generate a potential $5.4 billion in clean energy investments this year alone.

Most folks familiar with Oregon’s green energy scene know traditional hydropower from dams has long been the dominant energy alternative to fossil fuel-based electricity. So much so, that this year the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), which markets electric power generated from the Bonneville Dam set in the Columbia River, chose water power over wind when the water flows were high this year. The wind industry was none too happy with the choice.

Tussles between clean energy providers aside, most in the clean tech sector in Oregon generally play well with one another when it comes to supporting mutual development. For example, Vestas, a well-established wind power company, is renovating a 102-year old building in downtown Portland to be its U.S. headquarters. And to help power this building, it turned to Hillsboro, Ore. neighbor SolarWorld, which will be providing enough solar panels atop the location to power 12 percent of its energy needs.

While lacking any high-flying green car players like Tesla Motors (s TSLA) or Fisker Automotive, Oregon definitely has its share of up-and-coming companies in the electric vehicle and hybrid space – particularly when it comes to non-traditional automotive formats. Electric motorcycle developers like Brammo and MotoCzysz call the state home, sharing the open road alongside unique EVs from the likes of Arcimoto and Green Lite Motors.

More mainstream green car adoption in this state is high as well, with it seeming like every fourth or fifth car that passes you on Portland roads is a Prius or other hybrid. Toyota (s tm) seems to dig that, and last year, it selected Portland State University as a test spot for its upcoming Prius Plug-In Hybrid. The state also has a large portion of the early electric vehicle chargers installed and was one of the early places the Nissan Leaf went on sale.

In considering further evidence of why Oregon is a green tech lover’s paradise, one only need consider the power purchasing habits of the locals. The U.S. Energy Administration, in a recent report, found the state leads the nation in those enrolled in green power purchase programs: roughly 1 out of every 30 energy customers. This is further backed by data from the EPA’s Green Power Community Challenge Rankings, which show that out of the top 10 cities based upon green power usage, six spots are held by Oregon cities.

And in the on deck circle for future clean tech happenings in Oregon? Green buildings that go beyond LEED, wave energy development and a strong potential in green chemistry, just to name a few.

Image courtesy of dougtone, ChrisYunker.