Environment & Engineering

A look into CleanTech

Published Sep 28, 2021

Aotearoa has committed to reaching net zero emissions of long-lived greenhouse gases by 2050. Our team supports innovators through the commercialisation process as they create products and services that aim to reduce carbon emissions. From revolutionising the way ammonia is produced with Liquium, and developing new aluminium-ion batteries with TasmanIon, to creating a new prefabricated building system which eliminates waste with XFrame, not to mention a number of very early stage projects in development, our team work across a range of CleanTech projects. 

We spoke to one of our Senior Commercialisation Managers, Paul Geraghty, about his experience working on CleanTech projects with teams at Te Herenga Waka who are developing more efficient lighting, new solar materials, carbon capture products, new green catalytic processes and converting waste streams into more valuable products.

Minimising climate change and empowering decarbonisation has been a scientific focus for decades. Over recent years, Universities and research scientists have played a pivotal role in the development and acceleration of new innovations as we displace fossil fuel technologies for green alternatives. Universities and research scientists are taking their research from the laboratory to the end consumer and in the case of CleanTech, this means getting a working product out to market so it can start helping to reduce or remove atmospheric emissions to prevent a climate disaster.

The second catalyst promoting the adoption and acceleration of CleanTech is the maturity of the investment community regarding green finance. The investment community has seen countless CleanTech solutions having a global impact and understands the inherent challenges that makes or breaks a technologies scalability.

Working across this space, it’s clear to see that the decarbonisation process over the next 100 years will be the largest change in human society we have ever witnessed as fossil fuels have provided both energy and financial security to the world and now this currency must be changed to account for climate impacts. This change is supported by political, financial and industry leaders as the alternative of continuing the status quo will cause catastrophic failure for the human population. This mounting pressure is the remaining catalyst that is driving the uptake and adoption of CleanTech.

If we continue the scale and development of new technologies focused on carbon sequestration and utilisation, improving energy efficiency by replacing incumbent old technologies, improve waste processes, create new climate friendly products, support alternative green energy generation processes and alternative clean fuels, it is clear that the CleanTech market is becoming a perpetual and ever-growing opportunity.

The scale of the renewable energy landscape has provided a well described path to market for emerging CleanTech solutions, many of which are being developed at Te Herenga Waka. Working across projects with a CleanTech focus, including the likes of Liquium, whereby researchers have revolutionised the way ammonia is produced, making the process more economically feasible and environmentally friendly. My role is to support researchers as they identify a niche position and carve out a commercial pathway to create impact from their innovation. There is a desire from the researchers I work with to grow the next generation of clean technology solutions as frontier science allows for new and exciting intellectual property to be generated and protected. Together we are developing breakthrough innovations and better understanding pain points to ensure these ideas can be successful and make a real difference, not just to New Zealand, but hopefully globally too.