1) What's the problem with the term clean tech?
2) Why can't the intelligent, articulate, and passionate people who care about this issue come up with a better term?
I suggested that the term Clean Tech is confusing since it casually combines into a single "space" three need segments, each entailing distinct approaches, decision makers, and decision criteria:
1) For Efficient Resource Utilization (ERU), the need is likely to be met by the market: Good business rationale, solid ROI, acceptable payback.
2) The need for Lower-Impact Alternatives (LIA) may be met by the market: The switch to renewable sources presumably offers longer-term ROI; for the private sector to pursue it, some intervention through pricing and incentives may be necessary.
3) Finally, the need for Primary Demand Suppression (PDS) is unlikely to be addressed by the market: It entails significant sacrifice and change in behavior, and the payback may be quite distant; as a result, PDS often requires major government intervention, via regulation, taxation, or even shift in property rights.
- products (including software and service)
- information and open standards
- public policy (including incentives, regulation, education, advocacy, etc.)
The intersection of the need and solution dimensions creates a clear segmentation map, which I show below. To clarify these segments, I reviewed several alternative depictions of the clean tech space--such as the one from Khosla Ventures--and mapped them into my suggested segmentation. This is far from an exhaustive list of applications, but enough to give a sense of the range of possibilities:
Again, the story is quite clear: products and technologies are being funded and developed for ERU and LIA, but PDS won't get the same amount of pull--despite the popularity of "conservation" and "sustainable growth" sentiments.
- CleanTech IS a confusing term
- It's not a coincidence!
- It can be fixed--and doing so will help to improve decision making in this critical space