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Natural Disasters and Cleantech Opportunities

A recent headline in a well-respected business publication suggested that investment in cleantech continues to drop. As an evangelist for cleantech, I found this headline and article disturbing. Everyone has heard of the misguided investments by the US government into several US based solar enterprises, but is this the reason cleantech investing is down? Have we become that short sighted?

As a resident of New York, I survived Superstorm Sandy! The outpouring of support has been heartwarming and clearly demonstrates the good-hearted nature of Americans. However, the damage caused by the storm also exposed the vulnerability and fragility of our aged physical infrastructure.

As the storm raged, my family was safe and secure, waiting in anticipation of the inevitable. The storm really whipped up in the evening hours. The first utility to go was the electric power followed shortly by the cable and access to the internet which was quickly trailed by our cell service. So, here we were, living at the epicentre of the media and financial capital of the world and we were deaf, blind and disconnected from the outside world. How could this possibly happen from wind and rain?

As the storm blew itself out I went outside to assess the damage. Lots of trees were down. On my property alone we had six trees just miss the house, but one forty-footer did fall across our street onto a neighbour’s car. There were also telephone poles (just like those erected by Morse, except then they were called telegraph poles) toppled over with wires and cables dripping and drooping. Exploding transformers were lighting up the night sky like fireworks in July.

Because we were disconnected from the world, I stood, listening to the silence broken only by the occasional pop of a transformer I could only guess as to the extent of the damage. I knew if my neighbourhood sustained this kind of damage, I could only imagine how low-lying areas were affected. In the days following, power slowly came back, cable and internet were restored and cell service spottily resumed. But there were many others all throughout the North East who weren’t as fortunate. The extent of the damage soon became evident. I also realised that as devastating as the storm was, it also presented an opportunity to rebuild smartly and efficiently.
This is the moment to showcase the cleantech innovations that can restore the confidence in this industry and to demonstrate that cleantech is not just solar and wind. New energy-efficient boilers, HVAC systems, lighting, cloud based data backup, fiber optic cables, building products, batteries, energy storage devices, emergency lighting and signals and so much more.

Let’s not get derailed by a few bad investments (does anybody remember the dotcoms? But we still use the internet and apps). This is a sea change moment for New Yorkers, just as it was last year in Japan and Haiti and other parts of the world devastated by natural disasters. It seems that our hundred-year storms are occurring every year. Climate change is influencing weather patterns and along with the devastation comes opportunity.

Investors take note.
Published on 27-02-2013 12:30 by David Tee. 863 page views

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