“We need miracles,” says Bill Gates. “We need to take the CO2 rate down to 0 in less than 25 years.”
So where do we turn? To universities? Well, to a certain extent we do, but the best place to find fast, budget friendly, green technology innovation is to the world’s small businesses.
According to a report released by the SBA Office of Advocacy in the U.S., it’s small businesses that are developing new and greener technologies. Yes, government is helping to foster this innovation to a degree, but it is the small firms that account for about 14% of all green technology patents, and 32% of patents for smart grids and solar energy, with another 15% of patents being helped by small businesses in batteries and fuel cells.
Google is the poster child for demonstrating how miracles can happen with just a few people at the helm and while working with a limited budget. A company whose name is now a household word and that now exceeds $6 billion was started out of a garage by a PhD student doing his dissertation on search engine development.
However, in the world of clean energy no one really knows which company will be the equivalent of Google, or which companies will create the kind of breakthrough we need to change our energy history. Even so, the Department of Energy is rooting for some of these companies hoping they get a good start in their effort to win that title.
How are they doing it? By awarding grants to hundreds of small businesses that are the leaders in innovation and whose work is crucial to the development of competitive clean energy. So far, funding for such projects has totaled more than $18 million.
Awards have gone to small business developing new technologies that improve efficiency in air conditioning and refrigeration systems, those that decrease water usage in electric power production, those that create advanced thermal control, or improved battery and fuel cell technologies. Awards have also gone to projects that reduce energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions, low-cost solar cells, and many others.
Experts know that research and development is critical to the future of a world clean energy economy. And in many ways, this involves reinventing the way we think about, create and deliver energy. You cannot make such a profound change without investing in research and development, and it is this development that is taking place at small to Fortune 500 businesses across the globe.
Experts in green energy believe that small businesses will play a key role in finding the alternative energy miracles we need. They will make the industry more cost competitive and find the stable energy sources of the future.
Why? Well, because small businesses are quick to adopt new and high-risk initiatives; they facilitate research and value original ideas. They take the lead and go with he great ideas because they stand to make the most profit from these new and innovative ideas.