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Going Green and Clean: Finding Clean Technology Information

Magazine article Online Searcher

Going Green and Clean: Finding Clean Technology Information

Article excerpt

"Going green" has never been more popular.

Consumers want to do business with environmentally friendly companies, and companies want to please their customers. The emphasis on energy efficiency, environmental sustainability, and clean technology provides fertile ground for information professionals who do research in both business and technology sources.

Here are some samples of potential research questions related to clean technology:

What financial impact will energy-efficiency measures have on our plant?

I want to invest in small wind power plants. With a 5-year outlook, is France a good market for this?

I own a photovoltaic panel plant. Which are the export markets I should focus on in the few next years, and what do I need to know about trading conditions and regulatory restrictions?

Can I apply for any private or public funding for my clean technology startup? Where, how, when?

What are the latest technological trends in sustainable mobility in the U.S.?

I need to know everything about clean technologies in South America.

As a clean technology information professional, I answer questions similar to these and many more. Here's some guidance through the clean technology sector--its information sources and pitfalls.

WHAT IS CLEAN TECHNOLOGY?

Clean technology is not nearly as well-defined as other industries. The machine engineering industry builds machines; the automotive manufacturing industry produces cars. These industries have descriptive names, giving a precise idea of the businesses that are related to them and what they produce.

For environmental technologies and resource efficiency, it is far more complicated. This young industry doesn't even have one consistent name. Searchers will have to consider a number of possible search terms. Suggested by Germany's Federal Environment Ministry, the Bundesministerium fur Umwelt, Naturschutz, Bau und Reaktorsicherheit, are environmental technology, green technology, clean technology, greentech, cleantech, and probably more to come ("Green-Tech made in Germany 3.0"; bmub.bund.de/fileadmin/ Daten_BMU/Pools/Broschueren/greentech_3_0_bf.pdf). You might also consider sustainable development, alternative energy, clean energy, and renewable energy as thesaurus terms used by subscription databases.

Let's call it clean technology for now to pool a diverse range of products, services, and processes that intend to reduce the use of natural resources (energy included), raise efficiency, and cut waste. While supposed to cause less environmental damage than common practices, these technologies also provide superior performance at lower costs and improve the productive and sustainable use of natural resources, according to the Cleantech Group (site-dev. cleantech.com/what-is-cleantech).

PEANUTS OR A BIG AFFAIR?

How important is this industry? Just peanuts or a big affair? Clean technology is much more than some environment protection intentions. Looking at global demographic development, climate change, and resource limitations, it's clear we need to make our economies sustainable in the long term. The challenge is about enabling successful businesses while protecting natural resources. This requires social responsibility on an international level. The clean technology industry today represents a $2 trillion global market, forecast to grow to $4.4 trillion in 2025 (rolandberger.com/expertise/ industries/green_business/Green_tech_atlas_3_0.html).

With the industry in steady transition as new business sectors and technologies emerge, clean technology is considered an important technology for the future. As more and more countries set up regulations and funding to push clean technology, especially renewable energies, there are two major information needs arising--one on the production side, the other on the consumer side. Inventors and manufacturers of clean technology are asking for market and country studies, industry forecasts, investment strategies, technological trends, and funding possibilities. …

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