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Hoover Tower with SEQ PV panels

Interactive map of energy enterprises in S.F. Bay Area covers 1,500 entities

Jan 5, 2021
Precourt Institute

By Mark Golden

While Silicon Valley is known for its ingenuity especially in information technology, the San Francisco Bay Area also has 1,465 unique enterprises in energy, according to a new, interactive map.

The map was developed by the American Energy Society in collaboration with Sally Benson, Precourt Family Professor at Stanford University, and a former student of Benson’s, Scott Jespersen, MS ’20. Users can filter by dozens of categories, like solar, wind, biofuels, finance and academia/research. The map is maintained on energy.stanford.edu and AES’s website. Users can suggest edits from both locations.

“Silicon Valley may not generally be viewed as an epicenter for the energy sector like Houston, but growth of ‘Energy Valley’ is so fast that keeping up is difficult,” said Benson. “We think this can be a useful tool to many people interested in energy and especially in the innovators for the energy transition.”

Screen cap of the online map
The 1,465 entities in the interactive Silicon Valley Energy
Ecosystem map can be filtered by dozens of subsectors.

Perhaps surprisingly, the Bay Area includes 177 companies involved in solar and wind power, and 43 entities working in utility-scale generation and transmission. Sixty manufacturing sites make things like electric vehicles, batteries, fuel cells, and various other devices for energy efficiency and sustainable mobility. Some 200 investment funds with significant participation in energy, as well as 88 incubators or accelerators support new energy ventures.

“When I first heard about this project, I thought there would be 500 entities – tops,” said Benson. “Almost 1,500 really impresses and inspires me. There’s a lot of work being done around here.”

Systems thinking

AES, a non-profit professional association, conducted a comprehensive review of the energy-based enterprises of significant size in the area. Collecting the data took a couple years with contributions from the society’s members and others. Benson and Jespersen contributed the map’s graphical user interface to make the data more easily useful.

“Solar dominated Silicon Valley energy from the outset, due to the silicon fabrication in common with I.T., but in 2005 the floodgates opened with support for sustainable energy broadly,” said Eric Vettel, president of AES. “The real common denominators though are systems thinking, networks and the entrepreneurial culture.”

“We know the map is not comprehensive and we look forward to crowd-sourced improvements,” said Vettel. “We have a group that certifies that entities are appropriate and significant enough to be added.”

Individual map entries include the entity’s name, the categories of its focus, city location, and website link. The map’s definition of “Silicon Valley” is broad, stretching from Santa Rosa in the north to Antioch in the east to south of Santa Cruz.

Energy entities in the Bay Area employ 36,756 people, according to a report by AES based on the map’s data. While more venture capitalists may have a growing interest in early-stage energy ventures, the bulk of investment is by corporate venture groups within large, traditional energy companies, including automobile manufacturers and oil producers, according to the report, which can be downloaded for free on AES’ website. Much of the innovations begin at the area’s universities and research institutes like SRI International, according to the report written by AES staff members.