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This guest post was written by Steve Wall, Research Associate/Project Director of the Environmental Resource Program at the UNC Institute of the Environment.

On February 19th and 20th leaders in the clean technology sector will gather in Chapel Hill, NC for a two-day convening around North Carolina’s emerging clean tech industry at the NC Clean Tech Summit.  The event will draw participants from a wide range of fields including, industry executives, state and local government elected officials and staff, representatives from financial institutions, economic developers, university faculty and students, and many others.  

The Summit is organized by the UNC Institute for the Environment and the UNC Kenan-Flagler Center for Sustainable Enterprise and supported by industry sponsors. The Summit serves as a forum that advances discussion on critical issues and that increases collaboration between the clean tech industry and academic institutions and a host of other partners involved in the clean tech industry.

What is “clean tech”?

“Clean tech” is a term that encompasses a wide range of industries from clean energy to water efficiency to waste reduction. Clean tech broadly refers to the more efficient use of natural resources in products, services, and processes. These clean tech industries share a business approach of a return on investment while offering services or products that address energy and environmental challenges.

According to the Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster the Triangle is home to over 200 clean tech businesses varying from small startups to Fortune 500 companies.  In coming years these clean tech companies will continue to generate new jobs for the region and continue to enhance the Triangle’s reputation as a national leader of targeted economic development.

Clean Tech Summit Agenda

The 2015 Clean Tech Summit will feature an in-depth look at timely topics impacting the clean tech industry.  Experts from a variety of perspectives will highlight success stories and also identify challenges on the horizon.  Some examples of those topics include:

NC Clean Tech Summit 1The Future of Electricity: With the increase of distributed generation and emerging technologies the electricity sector is at the cusp of significant changes.  The CEO’s of Duke Energy, Southern Company, and the Tennessee Valley Authority will all speak to how their organizations are adapting to a changing energy landscape.

The Solar Boom: North Carolina’s solar industry has quickly become a national leader, but what does the looming expiration of the state’s renewable energy tax credit mean for the financing of solar projects and how are local government ordinances impacting the planning and development of solar farms?

Smart Cities: The growing clean tech sector is providing the technological tools to transform how communities are planned and developed.  The future holds great promise for these applications in the realms of smart water, energy efficiency, intelligent buildings, and more.

The Military and Clean Energy: The nation’s military service branches have been at the forefront of implementing clean energy projects at bases across the country.  Leadership from the Army and Navy will outline the military clean energy goals and provide some on the ground examples of what is working in North Carolina.

Financing Clean Energy:  Leading voices from banking and financial institutions will weigh in on the current state of financing clean energy projects and emerging issues in this space.

Moving Forward

At the conclusion of the Summit it is the expectation of the conference conveners and sponsors that participants will leave the event with a fuller understanding of how this emerging sector is spurring economic development in the region.  The Summit will also identify significant topics for ongoing discussions or work groups on issues, such as policy changes, ideas for new financing mechanisms, or emphasis in specific research areas.  In addition, industry leaders, policy-makers, and university researchers will all have had an opportunity to come together share best practices and lay the groundwork for future innovation in the clean tech industry.

Registration for the NC Clean Tech Summit is now open and a full agenda can be found at:   http://ie.unc.edu/cleantech/index.cfm

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