Philadelphia ranks among strongest markets for clean technology despite low-scoring state support

Philadelphia ranks among strongest markets for clean technology despite low-scoring state support

             Philadelphia boasts a number of clean energy companies and startups.
By   –  Digital Producer, Philadelphia Business Journal

Philadelphia is one of the top clean technology innovation hubs in the country, according to a new report.

The report, released by Colorado-based venture capital and research firm Saoradh Enterprise Partners (SEP), defines cleantech innovation hubs as functioning geographic ecosystems based on research funding, technology development, venture formation and other metrics. More generally, clean technology seeks to provide technological solutions to improve environmental sustainability.

Philadelphia ranked at No. 12 just behind the Research Triangle, a metro area in North Carolina that encompasses Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University. The Philadelphia region just beat out Baltimore, which sits at No. 13. The top three metro areas, according to SEP, are the Bay Area (No. 1), Boston (No. 2) and New York (No. 3).

Philadelphia received a score of 120 on a scale of 0-1,000. SEP scored the cities by analyzing 13 base datasets and totaling scores based on research, technology and venture. Baltimore received a score of 113, while the Research Triangle and Atlanta (No. 10) edged out the City of Brotherly Love with scores of 121 and 124, respectively.

A potential hindrance to the city cracking the top 10 is state cleantech support, which SEP scored on an index of 0-100 based on jobs per capita and a count of advanced energy legislation passed in the state. Philadelphia, along with Pittsburgh (No. 18) and State College (No. 26), all received a score of 1 for the state's support for cleantech innovation. Each of the metro areas ranked ahead of Philadelphia had a higher score on the state cleantech support index. California received a score of 100 and saw three of its cities land in the top 10.

Pennsylvania's Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act hasn't been updated since 2004. Senate Bill 300 was proposed in April, which would update the 2004 bill and require 8% of energy in the state to come from renewable resources, like solar and wind. It would also more generally call for higher energy standards in the state. It has since been referred to the Senate Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure Committee. Other sustainability initiatives have stalled recently in the Republican-controlled state legislature, like the state's participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which seeks to decrease carbon emissions.

Pennsylvania's sizable natural gas and coal industries aren't necessarily conducive to clean technology innovation. The state was the second-largest natural gas producer and the third-largest coal producer in the country in 2020.

While most of the gas and coal production happens in the state's rural areas, clean energy programs at Temple University and Drexel University, as well as the Kleinmen Center for Energy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, all likely gave Philadelphia a boost in the rankings.

Philadelphia also has a growing population of startups with a focus on sustainability, including Kitchen Garden Textiles, ShanPaulo and Grant Blvd, which have all incorporated sustainability practices into their operations. Additionally, Philadelphia Energy Authority, The Energy Co-op and Inspire Clean Energy all boast clean energy options in the city.


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