A literature review by Michelle Ranken: Clean technology attempts to reduce negative environmental impact by offering competitive returns to customers and investors. It introduces new technology and business models to provide solutions to climate and resource challenges.
Cleantech is often used interchangeably with “green tech,” a term coined in the 1970s. They should not be confused for one another, however, as cleantech provides solutions to global challenges while simultaneously offering attractive returns, whereas green tech presents limited opportunity for such. Cleantech also has greater financial sustainability and broader market economics.
Cleantech spans over eight different sectors, which include clean energy, energy storage, efficiency, transportation, air and environment, clean industry, water, and agriculture.
In Washington State specifically, The Prosperity Partnership defined cleantech as “one cluster with a strong and growing base of employment across Washington State.”
Government financial support has been crucial for the economic success of many aspects of cleantech. Increasingly, however, the industry is focusing on market justifiable products and services. The industry suffered a decrease in political support between 2010 and 2013—due to the both the down economy and an “over-hype hangover.”
It is now entering a period of growth, according to a study by Kachan & Co. The Advanced Energy Now 2014 Market Report found that, in 2013, growth in six cleantech segments presented an estimated seven percent increase in global revenue. US advanced energy revenue grew just over twenty-five percent overall from 2011 to 2012, and 14% from 2012 to 2013, with significant gains in transportation, buildings, and industry.
Studies completed in 2011 in The Impact of Clean Energy Innovation indicated that by 2030 aggressive energy innovation has the potential to grow the US economy by over $155 billion in GDP per year and create 1.1 million new net jobs, among other possible positive outcomes. The analysis indicates that aggressive clean energy innovation could “simultaneously help address the US’s major long-term economic, environmental, and security goals.”