The summer months in the town of Petrusville are known to be lacking in rain. The town gets only a few inches while the sun beats down on the residents there. But life in Petrusville is about to get a lot more innovative.
A new solar photovoltaic power station just came online, kicking off South Africa’s push to solar. The solar plant will cut 115,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions that would have come from a coal or fossil-fueled power plant. Eco technology is becoming a world wide phenomenon.
In this exciting time, where is green energy lacking and where is it making strides?
Availability of Data
Ford is one of many automakers utilizing big data to transform their user experience. Their Fusion Energi cars are said to deliver as much as 25 GB of data per hour as they travel the roads of America. As this technology grows, automakers will be looking for ways to use it in order to improve the consumer experience. Mainly, this means more efficient engines, better roadways and cars that react to the driver’s needs.This is not always the norm though as many new green tech innovations are too new to have extensive data which data can often make it harder to fund advancements.
Cost of Equipment
The cost of green technology is also driving innovation. When costs are low, there is more room for error as developers try new technology. While the cost of equipment like solar panels have been declining recently, they are still not a cheap enough alternative to have their energy savings offset their cost. While consumers may be able to save money when factoring in a tax credit, tax credits can’t be the driving force behind making an industry fit the long term needs of consumers.
Consumer demand for eco-friendly technology is fueling new industries. More consumers are opting to drive hybrid cars and take steps to lessen their carbon footprint by lowering their power usage in the home. The drive for organic food is creating more jobs in farming, and green industry jobs are booming. Solar, wind, and biofuels are attracting some of the greatest minds in engineering. Consumers feel a greater need to engage in the green movement, and actively seek brands and technology that promote eco-friendliness.
Innovation is Imminent
But that does mean it is here yet. The dotcom boom did not mean the end of the Internet industry and the current poor performing companies of today’s eco market are not an accurate portrayal of things to come. The fact is that tougher laws are likely coming for fuel consumption and industry pollution standards, so it’s in a company’s best interest to fund new research. This takes changes in the strategies of decision makers though. Either new management or the adoption of new ideals are needed before real innovation can happen.
These changes in management are driving alternative business opportunities in eco technology and are what, will ultimately, attract the much needed funding to push innovation even further. We might not see an overnight shift in technology, but according to the investment firm Permian Investment Partners home page, permianlp.com: “Intelligent analysis of high-level management change provides insight into a valuable and underexploited market.” So it is not that investors are not interested in this space; it’s that there is clearly much more to be considered, beyond a cool idea, before new ideas can attract funding to drive innovation. It will take great ideas, leaders that believe in the future of the industry, and realistic plans to execute change and attract the right attention.
There are a variety of eco-friendly efforts aimed at recycling technology or using existing scrap for other purposes. Companies like The Power of Green are donating money toward helping victims build wildlife shelters out of car parts.
These teams help teach children how to conserve and reuse through example. Children use the Power of Green initiative to build bird shelters from discarded Chevy Volt battery covers. This started with an engineer who used the battery pack covers to construct a duck nesting box for his nephew’s Boy Scout troop. The work was popular, so GM started the volunteer program in Michigan, where it has already taught over 300 children how to build homes for bluebirds and bats.
Money also goes toward making schools more eco-friendly, and researching new concepts in insulation like living rooftops.
What can Improve
Ultimately, poor short term performance is to blame for Cleantech’s sluggish launch. Green technology is in its fledgling stages so only the most enthusiastic companies are able to round up funding to create new ideas. The next Facebook or Google of eco technology may be out there. It’s an exciting time for green tech, a feeling where any moment the dam will break and technology will become easier and cheaper to produce.
Cleantech needs innovators willing to challenge what we know about green technology and how we produce energy. Though consumer demand drives much of the industry, the business side is slow to catch up. We want to lower our footprint, but we are lacking in technology, funding and globalized needs. Until these aspects change, growth will be slow coming. When clean technology can prove financially resourceful, it will be easier to convert interest into something more realistic.