Clean tech describes a broad range of technologies that reduce negative environmental impacts through energy efficiency improvements, the sustainable use of natural resources or environmental protection.
In the power sector, these technologies include carbon, capture and storage (CCS), as well as complementary advanced power generation systems, such as integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC), oxy-fuel and post-combustion capture.
Other technologies such as ultra-supercritical pulverised fuel, coal cleaning and treatment, poly-generation, waste heat recovery, hydrogen production, enhanced coal bed, extraction of waste coal mine methane, and coal gasification and liquefaction can also improve resource efficiency and reduce environmental impacts.
With the current focus on improving air quality in the world’s expanding cities, technologies that both remove gases and particles directly from exhaust fumes, such as catalytic convertors, and those that remove pollutants from ambient air, are very much in the spotlight.
Catalytic converters, designed to convert toxic fumes from vehicle exhausts into less harmful gases, are fitted as standard on most petrol and diesel cars. Due to tightening emissions regulations, the market for devices that clean up diesel fumes, especially toxic nitrous oxide (NOx), is expected to grow.
Innovators are also developing photo-catalytic treatments which remove pollutants from the air in the presence of sunlight. These treatments can be applied to a range of surfaces, for example roofing tiles, roofing felt or even the surface or roads.
The IT and big data sector is also making an important contribution to cleantech including services such as data collection, predictive modeling and real-time intelligence, smart meters and switching systems, car-sharing and more power-efficient computing or telecoms hardware.
In recent years, innovation in solar and wind power, as well as distributed solar, have been matched by rapid development of battery technology.
The cost of lithium-ion batteries for energy storage declined 65 percent in the five years to 2015, while battery storage’s use could hit 250GW by 2030, from just 1GW today, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
Lithium-ion chemistry is expected to continue to dominate, making up to 80 per cent of global electricity battery storage installations by 2025.