Last week, the Guardian UK announced its CleanTech 100 list, a breakdown of the 100 most cutting edge companies in Europe working on clean technologies. At the top of list was German solar cell manufacturer, Odersun, who recently made news by outfitting the Olympic Visitors Center in Beijing.
Other companies to make the top-10 were other solar firms, tidal turbine companies, and even one that specializes in conductive ceramics for batteries. Richard White, a senior analyst at Library House, the research house that co-authored the CleanTech 100, said that list was an “exciting glimpse into the future.” It offers a glimpse of those working to build an industry focused on innovation, environmental awareness, and efficiency.
The rise of clean tech
Clean Tech is a slightly nebulous concept, often thought of and talked about in different ways. To create its top-100 list, the Guardian looked at clean technology as anything that helps consumers or industries to use raw materials such as energy and water more efficiently and, in the process, improve their environmental footprint.
According to Library House, venture capital investment in European clean tech companies nearly doubled to ¬£805m in 2007 from the previous year, and globally the figures went from $850m in 2004 to $6bn in 2007. The slew of articles out there on venture investment in clean tech serves as testament to its increasing popularity as well. That is due to in no small part to companies like Odersun.
Employing 90 workers, the Odersun makes thin-film solar cells from copper, indium, and sulphur. Though not as energy efficient as silicon, it’s cheaper and can be formed into virtually any size or power, which was what they utilized in the Olympic Visitor Center project. They integrated trapezoidal “super-cells” to match the aesthetic and function of the center.
The CleanTech 100 was based on several rubrics including product scalability, potential market size, and the company’s environmental impact. The selection committee was comprised of partners of venture capital firms, financial analysts, and industry professionals, including those from Morgan Stanley, Siemens, Advent, and GE Energy Financial Services.
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(Photo courtesy of Odersun AG)