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Spotlight: Clean Tech
CNBC.com | March 01, 2012 | 01:00 PM EST

The U.S. economy may finally appear convincingly on the mend, but a hearty debate continues about the right ingredients for the future success of American business.

That success is likely a lot more complicated than corporate tax rates, executive compensation, quarterly profits and the minimum wage. Similarly, it is not guaranteed by America's long and storied entrepreneurial tradition and a strong currency .

As our special report "Better Your Business " shows, success in the new, global economy is about new investment, new applications, and new markets — smart growth driven by innovation and excellence. Because of this, we're focusing on four areas: clean tech, energy , digital and advanced manufacturing.

Clean tech is transforming everything from transportation to energy to construction. It's a huge, sprawling sector populated by big and small companies, rich in innovation and colored by common sense.

In a world of limited, if not diminishing, natural resources, clean tech is about efficiency and austerity. Not only is it important to create alternative sources of energy, it's also critical to find ways to store excess energy. Buildings can be carbon neutral and energy self-sufficient; railroad cars lighter, faster and more fuel efficient.

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