Global companies are charging forward in the CleanTech campaign
In light of worrying statistics about how far humans have damaged the environment, the CleanTech revolution could not have come at a more critical time. Luckily, there are a number of established companies and startups that are working to find clean solutions for businesses and consumers. But who are they, and how are they encouraging CleanTech?
Proterra designs and makes zero emissions, fully electric buses to provide sustainable public transport. Since the company was founded in 2004, it has experienced steady uptake in the US. Last summer, Proterra closed a $55m series 6 funding round. The electric vehicle (EV) provider also broke a world record in September 2017 when a Catalyst E2 max travelled 1,101.2 miles on a single charge – the furthest of any EV at the time. In this year’s Global CleanTech 100 list, Proterra was awarded Company of the Year for North America.
Oslo based Kebony develops sustainable hardwood through materials science. The company offers a substitute for endangered hardwoods by changing the biological makeup of softwood alternatives. Their patented timber modification production method uses a liquid mixture made from agricultural waste to strengthen the wood’s cell wall, improving durability. The Global CleanTech 100 list ranked Kebony as the Company of the Year for Europe and Israel.
A regular appearance on the Global CleanTech 100 list, Stem combines big data, predictive analytics and energy storage to reduce energy costs for businesses. Through ‘the world’s smartest energy storage network’, Stem manages energy around the clock for organisations that may not have the infrastructure or staff to do so. The network is powered by Athena, the world’s first AI for energy storage and virtual power plants. Athena analyses data at a rate of 400 megabytes a minute to make suggestions about when to buy energy. Clients include Adobe, Facebook and Wells Fargo.
Sonnen is a German company that provides energy storage solutions for homes and businesses. Its flagship product, sonnenBatterie, connects to solar panels and the grid to give users more utility over their utilities. The intelligent storage system automatically adjusts energy usage levels, and saves excess energy for backup power. Customers are connected through the sonnenCommunity, which enables people to share energy and bypass conventional providers.
With a mission to transform agriculture and build healthier communities, AeroFarms use vertical, indoor farming to grow produce. Aeroponic systems enable faster growing cycles and less environmental impact. Smart lighting and nutrition are applied to meet the needs of specific plants. The system is tested and reviewed in real time using predictive analytics. AeroFarms uses 95 per cent less water than traditional farming, and 40 per cent less than hydroponics, in which plants are grown without soil. Vertical farming also minimises land use and can enable agriculture in urban spaces.
Founded in 2015, Delft-IMP – the IMP stands for Intensified Materials Production – improves the power and lifetime of batteries by adding nanocoatings. Through atomic and molecular layer deposition (ALD and MLD), particles can be nanostructured to make batteries more competitive. The coating has enabled batteries to be used in automotive applications, and Delft-IMP is now looking to expand to fuel cells and lighting. Battery companies are still working to find a better alternative to lithium ion, but Delft-IMP’s nanotech coating means that today’s batteries can reach their highest potential.
Just like energy, space, and raw materials, water is a vital resource that needs careful conservation. Apana is a water management and analytics company that shows users how much water they are using – and wasting. It ‘manages water like inventory’, preventing shortages by detecting system faults, tracking water use, and offering ways to reduce it. Their overall aim is to eliminate unnecessary water use, for the benefit of clients as well as the environment.
8) Clean Tech
Aptly named, UK based Clean Tech operates the largest bottle reprocessing plant in the country. All products manufactured at the plant are made using post consumer waste. The plant handles more than 100,000 tonnes of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic packaging each year, turning it into recycled packaging that can be reused to pack food and other products. This reduces waste and maximises the lifespan of PET plastics. The company applies circular economy values to help to develop a sustainable society.
Wind turbine company Goldwind is one of China’s leading CleanTech businesses. Goldwind is not only promoting new energy development in China, but operates across six continents to advance renewable options. The energy giant builds smart wind farms powered by cloud computing, big data, and machine learning technologies. Goldwind has also created its own smart energy management system that fuels other CleanTech solutions like water storage, precision aeration, and motor energy saving.
SolarCity, the battery company founded by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, has quickly dominated solar markets in the US. Current products include a solar panel roof that collects as much power as possible without looking like a solar panel, and Powerwall, a home energy storage solution. The company provides services to homeowners, businesses, government, and also non-profit organisations. So far, SolarCity has received more than $2bn in funding.
It’s never been more clear that global companies need to clean up their act, and that’s not just because the environment is at risk. Sustainability represents a key trend in business development both at a B2B and B2C level. Clients, whether they are corporations or consumers, are backing CleanTech. Sustainability presents a huge business opportunity with the added benefit of, well, saving the planet. Expect to see a barrage of CleanTech startups challenging incumbents like SolarCity and Goldwind with even more innovative ideas to encourage clean energy culture.
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