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As we roll deeper in to 2009, it’s clear Green business and energy will continue to gain economic and social steam, even in the midst of a prolonged recession.
Despite the faddish label of “Green,” renewable and alternative energy technologies are a permanent part of our economy. Ideas like electric cars, solar panels, wind turbines, and the smart grid, don’t seem odd, idealistic or far off.
With new green technologies, come new leaders who will shape the direction of the world’s energy. There’s people like John Doerr who seek out the next bright idea, then there’s other people like members of OPEC who are valiantly trying to defend their old idea.
There are also people who only have an inkling of an idea about how to change the world. Last year those people, the dreamers, got a piece of the $8.4 billion that was invested in clean technology companies by venture capital firms across North America, Europe, China and India. Even after the economy tanked in the fourth quarter, $2.5 billion was invested in clean tech companies. Though, this year won’t be as kind to green companies, as venture funding has dried up for VCs.
Regardless, 2009 is still shaping up to be a big year. The stimulus bill will provide billions for alternative energy and there are rumours Congress will produce a second energy bill later this year; General Electric produced a Super Bowl ad touting the smart grid; and the Detroit Auto Show was focused almost pathologically on electric cars.
While there’s numerous subdivisions of clean tech, we’ve picked out five people who we’re watching this year from five different groups:
The Dreamers: The entrepreneurs who are dreaming up cool new ideas and solutions.
The Schemers: Venture capitalists who will be funding these cool new ideas and helping to create a roadmap for these ideas to become big businesses.
The Leaders: The green companies that are already leading the way in the industry.
The Outsiders: People that are on the fringe of the greentech movement, but still play a very influential role.
The Deciders: Who’s going to be making the policy decisions that will shape green industry for the next few years.