July 1, 2009


Following on from the post about IRENA and Masdar City the other day, I thought I would talk a little bit about about CleanTech. CleanTech is a broad definition for products and technologies that improve performance, productivity and efficiency, while at the same time reducing costs, energy input, pollution or waste. These technologies have an incredibly broad range of application in Energy Generation (wind, solar, biofuel, wave), Energy Storage (advanced batteries, fuel cells), Agriculture (organic pesticides, land management), Energy Efficiency (building, lighting), Waste Treatment, and Water and Air Purification. The list is extensive.

Some people, including myself, view CleanTech as the next big boom, because in a world that is becoming short on resources (water, energy, food, for example), countries that are efficient or even sustainable will find themselves in a powerful position.

NZ is doing its bit in this part, although as is often the case, we could, and should be doing more. We, like Masdar City, could have the potential to become a 'hotbed' of innovation in this area. We could leverage our clean-green image, our brains and ingenuity and our ability to take on new technologies because of our size, to create more of these types of companies. For example, the electric car will become more prevalent throughout the next 20 years, and so imagine if NZ positioned itself to become the biggest manufacturer of advanced batteries for electric cars? Or infact experts in any of the areas I listed above! This is similar to what Denmark has done with wind turbines. We could really create a name for ourselves and although there are clearly economic and regulatory issues associated with the uptake of renewable energy sources, I believe the payoff could be huge if we back ourselves NOW!

Here are a few early stage NZ companies operating in this area that have taken the plunge already. I'll try and talk in more detail about what these companies are doing in the coming weeks because they have some amazing ideas. But in the meantime please check them out:

Aquaflow Bionomic (biodiesel from algae)
Carbonscape (carbon capture and storage)
Crest Energy (tidal power)
Lanzatech (bioethanol from waste)
Neptune Power (tidal power in Cook Strait)
Novatein (plastics from waste materials)
Wellington Drive Technologies (energy efficient electric motors)


  1. Aaron, I agree CleanTech has huge potential, although the recent economic conditions have hit many of the start-up companies working in the field; VC funding has dried-up and many of the promising technologies are at risk of falling down due to lack of investment. Despite this we still think gold will have a role in many of the technologies you mention - eg use of gold nanomaterials to improve solar cell efficiency http://www.goldinnovationsblog.com/solar-cell-efficiency

  2. With what's just happening in Japan, I bet you folk in NZ are pretty happy with your no nuclear stance. How far along is the tidal power project in Cook Strait - that seems to have huge potential



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