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)