More with less: Cleantech is the new religion
One would think that Cleantech is primarily rooted in science and technology. One would also think that the most important Cleantech decisions are made by smart MBAs in office towers. But in reality the ultimate Cleantech decisions — those decisions that really count, are made at stores like Wal-Mart stores by discriminating customers on Saturday mornings based on four highly integrative criteria:
- They must be price competitive to the products they are looking to displace. The high cost of organic foods is a significant barrier to their mass adoption.
- They must be at least as easy to store and handle as the products they are looking to displace. Our distribution infrastructure was developed for easy storage and handling.
- They must offer the same features or functionalities as the products they are looking to displace. I remember the unpleasant results of early trials of organic deodorants.
- They must be easy to use, probably better than the products they are looking to displace. We shouldn’t have to read instruction manuals before rolling on deodorants.
Cleantech encompasses a diverse range of products, services, and processes that harness renewable materials and energy sources, dramatically reduce the use of natural resources, and cut or eliminate emissions and wastes. Paradoxically over the last few years Cleantech has been fed by rare earth elements and lithium, which we cover regularly in our editorials.
But fundamentally cleantech is the new-age religion of doing more with less.
Without cleantech we will not meet the tremendous challenges imposed on us by the world’s growing population and climatic change.
Every second, three people are added to the world; every day a quarter of a million are added. Every year, about 87 million people (about the population of Mexico, or three times the population of California, or the combined populations of the Philippines and South Korea) swell the world’s head count. Over the next 2.5 years, the equivalent of the U.S. population will be added to the planet, or over the next decade we will squeeze in as much as an extra China to the world’s population. If the current demographic trend continues, by 2050 we will be over 12 billion on this planet.
Arguably climatic change is emerging as the most significant challenge of our generation. Natural resources will be scarce, a problem that will be exacerbated by desertification. There will be water shortages.
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To address water shortage I’m thinking of the work of H2O Innovation Inc (TSXV: HEO), which recently received the Water Technology Company of the Year Award at the 2016 Global Water Awards, which took place in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Although consumers are key decision makers in the commercialization of cleantech products, governments play an equally significant role by enabling the basic research of scientists and the experimental development efforts that come with exploring new scientific frontiers. Without government participation cleantech entrepreneurship would be limited to large corporations with enough resources to support their own research efforts.
Governments will also play a critical role through the implementation of carbon trading schemes to limit greenhouse gases emissions. This will favor cleantech by increasing the cost-competiveness of technologies.
Providing cost-effective energy with low environmental footprint will continue to be the single-most important challenge of the Cleantech sector.
Recently, I covered Uragold (TSXV: UBR), which offers a 75% reduction in carbon footprint of silicon wafers for photovoltaic cells. This type of technology has such disruptive potential that it could make photovoltaic energy on par with the current electrical grid in North America.
Any game-changing new technology, like potentially Uragold’s innovation, may permit us to break through the ceiling imposed by the carrying capacity of the planet.
Note from the Publisher: Dr. Luc Duchesne will be a moderator and panelist at the upcoming 5th Annual Cleantech & Technology Metals Summit: Invest in the Cleantech Revolution. This is a 2-day event being held on Tuesday, May 10th and Wednesday, May 11th at the Omni King Edward Hotel on 37 King St. East in Toronto, Ontario. Both days have agendas from 8:30AM-5PM and include breakfast and lunch. There is a cocktail reception on the 1st evening, and everything is included in the delegate cost of CAD$750. To register as a delegate, click here: https://ctms2016.eventbrite.com
Dr. Luc C. Duchesne is a Speaker and Author with a PhD in Biochemistry. With three decades of scientific and business experience, he has published ... <Read more about Dr. Luc Duchesne>