The World’s Top Cleantech Countries

March 6, 2012 Updated: September 29, 2015

In a world of rising environmental issues, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has published the “Global Cleantech Innovation Index 2012.” The study puts the United States as one of the world’s top leaders in the cleantech industry.

The study analyzes the progress and outlook of 38 countries’ green technology innovations. Fifteen indicators related to the creation and commercialization of cleantech startups are used to judge the placement of each country. The Global Cleantech Innovation Index is the first to measure the emergence of cleantech companies.

The study highlights the important role of an entrepreneurial culture, for it is “primarily through entrepreneurial ventures that technologies achieve impact beyond the laboratory doors.” The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor ranks the United States as number one in “general innovation drivers.”

The majority of U.S. cleantech companies are located in California’s Silicon Valley, birthplace of Google, as well as new cleantech companies such as MiaSolé and Solazyme.

Cleantech refers to energy-related technologies, including a broad range of sustainable technologies such as water, agriculture, and waste.

Although the United States created the most greentech companies of the 38 countries, when the size of the U.S economy is taken into consideration, Denmark ranks number one in overall cleantech innovations followed by Israel—with the United States coming in fifth.

Even though Israel is missing central government support for sustainable technologies, the country still has a large amount of local cleantech investors.

Denmark is the overall top scorer for its strong government policy and public research and development spending, although the country has a weaker entrepreneurial culture. The study shows there is no set equation for a path of greentech success: Brazil ranks high in an entrepreneurial culture, but places 25th for lack of innovative cleantech companies itself.

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand of workers will rise in the next decade for the environmental industry. The industry is expected to increase by 2.5 percent annually.

According to the White House, the use of clean, renewable energy “has nearly doubled” under the Obama administration. As a part of the Recovery Act, almost $11 billion has gone to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Interior for projects varying from green job training to water quality improvement.

The administration has invested $90 billion in clean energy from 2008–2012. The FY 2012 budget will increase investments in renewable technology by more than 70 percent.

According to the study, although the United States is the highest overall scorer outside of Europe and Israel, it is not doing as well in cleantech company revenues. According to the Heritage Foundation, this may be because cleantech in the United States is not “commercially viable, whether because of burdensome regulations or simply because they are … expensive.”