Investor scramble predicted for clean-tech resource revolution

Concerns over resource scarcity are creating "unprecedented" investment opportunities as companies seek to exploit clean-tech solutions and technologies to drive value creation in this field.

According to environmental investment firm Impax Asset Management, rapidly depleting resources coupled with rising population growth is set to trigger a “revolution in efficiency” which will both be fundamental and long term in nature – making it a highly attractive proposition for investors.

This revolution will be underpinned by rapid adoption of breakthrough technologies to boost security and supply of renewable energy, clean water and secondary materials. One example is light emitting diodes, where the market is expected to grow by 25% a year to 2020, reaching $100bn.

The energy efficiency of products and services, particularly in industry and transportation, is also set to increase. For example, fuel-efficient engines are currently capable of 80mpg, but this figure could rise to 100mpg within 15 years.

In water the key area of investment will centre on new asset creation, with the construction of new water supply and treatment infrastructure in emerging economies set to become a dominant theme over the next decade.

New technologies such as membrane filtration, ultra violet light disinfection and activated carbon are also being rolled out in response to increasing regulation of water supply quality.

Meanwhile the use of industrial materials and ores has risen seven-fold in the last century, sparking demand for improvements in extraction and processing yields utilising the use of industrial gases in the steel and chemicals industries.

Manufacturers will look to drive greater efficiencies in their production processes by optimising materials use and implementing new technologies such as automation equipment, sensors and controls.

The emerging market for smart materials is also gathering pace as these can offer increased efficiency, lower cost and reduced environmental impact. The smart electric materials sector in particular is estimated to grow at 16% over the next four years.

One company already benefiting from this is Boeing – 50% of its new 787 Dreamliner frame is comprised of a lightweight carbon fibre composite which will slash fuel consumption.

Maxine Perella

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