Cleantech is an umbrella term for any process, product, or service that harnesses a renewable energy source to eliminate or reduce emissions and/or waste.
While there is no precise definition of cleantech, the Clean Technology Trade Alliance defines it as “a broad base of processes, practices and tools, in any industry that supports a sustainable business approach, including but not limited to: pollution control, resource reduction and management, end of life strategy, waste reduction, energy efficiency, carbon mitigation, and profitability.”
The word itself is believed to be a derivative of the term “clean tech” which was popularized by authors Clint Wilder and Ron Pernick in their 2007 book The Clean Revolution: The Next Big Growth and Investment Opportunity. Wilder and Pernick posited that the rise of cleantech – at the time in its relative infancy – was driven by:
- The rising cost of conventional tech.
- Increasing investment by large corporations into cleantech research and development.
- Competition in the global marketplace.
- Shifting consumer attitudes and increasing prevalence of mainstream environmental issues, and
- The emerging Chinese middle-class who forced their government to devote more resources to sustainable forms of energy.
Wilder and Pernick believed that when the cost of cleantech became more competitive with conventional alternatives, advances in solar and wind power, water quality, and transportation would benefit broad swathes of society.
Fifteen years after the authors wrote their book, the point at which cleantech is more viable than conventional options is rapidly approaching. In some countries, this point may have already been reached.
Here are some of the applications of cleantech today:
- Built environment – this encompasses tech that saves power in the home or workplace and tends to include automated or smart IoT devices. Cleantech is also a critical part of reducing emissions from the design and planning of new homes, with the UN reporting that 38% of all CO2 emissions come from the construction industry.
- Energy distribution and storage – any cleantech product that provides domestic, commercial, and industrial consumers with more control over the way their electricity is supplied, stored, and used.
- Energy efficiency – any product that facilitates the saving of energy in domestic and industrial processes. Examples of this cleantech that reduce GHG emissions include LED illumination, waste heat recovery, smart plugs, and energy analytics platforms.
- Transportation – at 27% of total emissions in the United States, transportation is the largest polluter by sector. Cleantech here is focused on start-up companies that are working on new methods of transport in addition to initiatives that reduce the industry’s environmental impact. Examples include biofuels, advanced telemetry fleet management software, and drivetrain conversion systems.
- Water, waste, and agriculture – cleantech is used to improve the quality and quantity of potable water and in terms of waste, involves novel business models and strategies to reuse materials. Cleantech is also used in the agricultural industry to improve food security and production.
- Cleantech is an umbrella term for any process, product, or service that harnesses a renewable energy source to either eliminate or reduce emissions and waste.
- Cleantech is a derivative of the term “clean tech” which was popularized by authors Clint Wilder and Ron Pernick in their 2007 book The Clean Revolution: The Next Big Growth and Investment Opportunity.
- The applications of cleantech today are wide-reaching and have enormous benefits for society. Cleantech products tend to be concentrated in waste, water, agriculture, transportation, the built environment, and energy distribution, storage, and efficiency.
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