Cleantech, or clean technology, is a general term used to describe products, processes or services that reduce waste, use less energy and require as few non-renewable resources as possible. While there is no standard definition of “cleantech”, The Clean Technology Trade Alliance, a global initiative to drive the expansion of cleantech, 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.
Cleantech spans many industry verticals and is defined by the following eight segments:
Technologies that generate electricity, thermal energy or fuel by harnessing wind power, solar irradiance, heat from the earth’s crust, biomass, or motion of waves, tides or currents. Examples include high-performance wind turbines, anaerobic digesters, enhanced performance photovoltaic modules, high-efficacy inverters, and wave energy buoys.
Technologies capable of storing energy in any form for later use. Energy storage helps stabilize the electrical grid while increasing the use of renewable energy from resources such as solar and wind. Examples include high-performance batteries, thermal storage (e.g. molten salt, chilled water) and mechanical storage (e.g. flywheels, compressed air).
Technologies that use less energy to deliver the same services as conventional technologies. Examples include LED lighting, high-performance appliances, smart grid, green buildings, cogeneration and data center efficiency.
Technologies that optimize transportation while limiting emissions, waste, and the consumption of non-renewable resources such as fossil fuels. These technologies can either improve alternative means of transportation or increase adoption of existing alternatives (through consumer and community engagement). Examples include connected vehicle technologies, traffic and route management systems, electric vehicles of all types and uses (including trucks and transit), charging infrastructure and alternative fuels fleet vehicles (natural gas, hydrogen, etc).
Technologies that make agriculture and forestry more productive while mitigating the environmental impacts of conventional management practices. Examples include natural fertilizers, soil amendments, sustainable forestry, sensors, controls, smart machinery, environmental testing, waste innovations and controlled environment agriculture.
Air & Environment
Technologies that help achieve cleaner air and environment by mitigating or treating emissions of greenhouse gases, pollutants, or particulates and reducing waste. Examples include pollutant sinks, filtration technology, monitoring technology, technologies that improve the ability to recycle and reuse used materials as new products and high-performance infrastructure with low carbon footprint.
Technologies and processes that make manufacturing more sustainable by conserving resources, minimizing waste, and protecting the safety of communities. Examples include improved performance additive manufacturing, green chemistry, membranes that enable cleaner products, replacements for rare earth materials, sustainable materials for 3D printing, reductions in process temperatures, waterless processes, and closed-loop systems.
Water & Wastewater
Technologies and processes that efficiently manage, conserve, and ensure the safety of water (drinking water, stormwater, surface water, industrial process water, or wastewater) while minimizing impact on the environment. Examples include water quality or flow sensors, water monitoring/management software technologies, water treatment, water recycling, smart irrigation and microbial fuel cells.
In a nutshell, cleantech is technology that is good for our planet!