Clean Tech Predictions 2017
CleanTech is poised to grow by leaps and bounds in 2017, with the past decade setting the charges for tomorrow’s explosive expansion.
CleanTech has experienced consistent year-over-year growth since 2007, growth that marched onward undeterred by the 2008 financial crisis even as other economic sectors lagged. Not bad for an industry once considered too fringe to be worth investors’ time.
The latest estimates place the value of the CleanTech industry at more than $2 trillion. Part of the reason for the industry’s success is the human drive behind the cause. As more eyes turn to the increased threat posed by climate change and depleting natural resources, we are left wondering whether our very survival might depend on reinventing our societal modi operandi.
Still, emotions alone can’t drive the bottom line. Most of the time, that’s a matter of economic opportunity meeting execution. To wit, the world’s largest economies and most influential governments have led the charge to invest in CleanTech.
CleanTech Innovation and Funding: Growing Exponentially
Technologies related to demand-side response, big data analytics and energy storage made their way into the spotlight in 2016. Smartphone apps like Chai Energy, backed financially by Microsoft and Los Angeles’ Cleantech Incubator, open up the doors for households to monitor real-time energy use in a way previously reserved for businesses. Others, like Apana, shed light on natural resource use – highlighting instances of water waste.
At its core, this is a story of good technology meeting market demands. The reason to invest is clear: CleanTech performs three times better than investments in “dirty” energy technology.
As a result, private investors and governments are quite literally banking on CleanTech as the future of energy production. Together, they invested $330 billion into CleanTech technologies in 2016.
A large amount of this investment is coming from old energy and technology giants trying to hedge their bets in a rapidly changing social and economic landscape. Gas giant Chevron alone has made 110 investments through its Technology Ventures division, while GE has invested $1 billion in Current, its main CleanTech play.
Nations profoundly reliant on dirty tech, like the United Arab Emirates, are investing unimaginable sums in an effort to be at the forefront of tomorrow’s clean economy. For over a decade now, the UAE has been investing billions in Masdar City, it’s model for a fully functional metropolis that runs nearly carbon neutral, waste- and car-free and entirely on renewable energy. China is pursuing its version of the same goal through the Dongtan project.
The fact that historically “dirty” countries are now playing prominent roles in driving change just underscores how quickly CleanTech can push the global economic structure to its inflection point. Perhaps it’s optimistic, but it’s not crazy to think that 2017 might be the year when it all comes together.
View all the predictions and photos: Pan Power