Cleantech and Sustainability:
Keys to the Future
Clean Technology (or Cleantech) in industry has become a hotly pursued but seemingly elusive commodity since Al Gore took the podium in 2006. Cleantech holds the potential to reduce the cost and ecological footprint of industrial resource consumption, and increase efficiency and profit margins. Nothing lasts forever, and natural resources are no exception. It will be the innovators that find ways to sustain themselves using new and emerging technologies that come out on top in the fight for higher profits.
For all the attention grabbing rhetoric, sustainability gets little more than lip service when compared to hot-button issues like the economy and homeland security. Relying on heavily subsidized natural resources (ie. oil and coal) is fine, but the finite amounts left won’t last forever, and once they are gone, that’s it. It will be the pioneering innovators who find clean technologies to fill the resource vacuum, allowing our current standard of living to be maintained. Clean technologies harness technological innovations to become machinery, tools, and processes that run with lower costs and better reliability. The improvements of Cleantech provide elevated profit margins, but there are capital costs that must be accounted for first.
From drawing up plans and building prototypes to patents and testing – emerging technologies have costs associated with them, and these costs can be daunting if there is no prospect of a quick return. The first combine harvester may not have made it’s inventor rich on its own, but it forced the entire farming industry to get behind automation. Productivity went from between 1.5 and 3 than an acre per day to approximately 10, an increase of over 300%!*
Being at the forefront of any emerging technology is a huge competitive advantage. “Industry Leaders”, those who set and maintain benchmarks by revolutionizing the industry in which they operate, experience elevated revenue and profit in tandem with lower operational costs. Indirect benefits, such as exposure, positive reputation, and awards put the business into the limelight and garner attention. If your clean tech can be widely implemented there is a tidy profit to be made selling it on the market as competition must catch up or be left behind.
Is there a purpose to taking a risk on emerging innovations?
Ultimately, is Cleantech worth it? The Venus Project seems to think so. With revolutionary designs based on the premise of sustainability and cooperation, it is unparalleled and unprecedented. The project aims to innovate new ways of doing things; we cannot keep consuming resources with conventional methods. Despite what seem like lofty or even impossible goals, funding for it is not going to be drying up any time soon.