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What is Clean Technology?

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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2016
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Clean technology, often reduced to clean tech, is a term that encompasses many things without having a solid definition. These include environmentally friendly and sustainable energy, products, and services. A highlighting characteristic of clean technology is that the positive attributes and benefits of something are substantially increased, while the negative attributes are substantially decreased. Although the term clean technology does involve various items and services, it is commonly used for financial rather than technical reasons.

Clean technology has two aims. First, ideas in this category need to effectively solve problems. These problems are usually large scale if not global. Second, clean tech solutions need to be financially attractive. They should be able to entice investors and win support of the customers who may be exposed to them.

There are numerous industries in which clean technology solutions can be developed. These include energy, agriculture, and waste management. To qualify as clean technology, products and services must be concerned with more than environmental friendliness.

High levels of productivity, performance, and efficiency should also be set as goals. The general idea is to experience a wholesome package of benefits. If, for example, a technological advancement reduced pollution but required large amounts of energy for reduced output, it could be difficult to determine the degree of its benefit.

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Clean technology should generally aim to reduce a full range of negative attributes, such as pollution, input costs, and resource consumption. Focusing on one area will usually not allow a product or service to qualify as clean tech. It is generally understood that anything which is to be developed and labeled as clean tech will be competitive.

It may help to make clean technology easier to understand if one considers old and new wind energy machines. The old machine, for example, uses renewable energy and does not cause pollution. However, there is no technology to store the energy, so it must be consumed as it is produced. Furthermore, production is expensive and does not encourage most consumers to switch from fossil fuels.

The new wind energy machine should be a whole solution instead of just making one improvement. It should require less wind to produce more energy, which can be stored and consumed as needed. This should be done at costs that will persuade potential investors that investing will result in attractive returns. It should also be done at costs that encourage consumers to want to use it.

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truman12
Post 2

How do you guys feel about clean coal technology? I have heard a lot of convincing arguments on both sides of the issue.

The proponents say that coal is still a viable and abundant source of energy. It may not be clean but it is an important bridge to the more green and sustainable energy sources of the future. If we can find a way to reduce the carbon footprint of burning coal it can be an important part of our energy infrastructure.

The detractors say that there is no way to clean up coal. Even if you reduce the carbon footprint, this ignores all the destructive effects of mining for coal. Also, dedicating time and resources to a technology that we ultimately hope to move beyond only slows the process down. Those resources could be better spent on true clean technologies.

Ivan83
Post 1

One of the most pervasive and useful kinds of clean technology is energy efficient appliances. We probably all remember the old environmental slogan, "reduce, reuse, recycle." The best kind of environmental awareness is to simply use less of something.

There has been a lot of talk about clean energy lately, but the most important step is to use less energy across the board, regardless of its source. If we make sure that any electrical device uses the very minimum amount of energy we can see huge savings. Energy conservation is just as important as energy production.

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