While startups have played a crucial role in getting the green industry off the ground, the future will likely be dominated by the green giants, i.e., large, sprawling conglomerates with decades of experience under their belts.
Why? Green technology essentially involves revamping the physical infrastructure of the modern world: replacing coal-fired power plants with wind turbines, building homes from materials concocted in chemistry laboratories, and swapping out engines for electric motors. Established companies are simply in a far better position to muster the capital, technological depth, and factory capacity that will all be needed to make the transition.
Familiarity plays a big role, too. Millions have flocked to play Farmville, but you won't see the same sort of giddy enthusiasm for unheralded newcomers among utilities and industrialists to try high voltage power lines or sewage-to-drinking-water plants. If the internet boom was embodied by a twenty-something billionaire, cleantech is a science teacher with a comb-over.
We came out with a Top Ten Green Giants for 2010. Here is this year’s list to watch, followed by an update on 2010's group. Click on the company names to read more.