According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), cleantech refers to technologies, products, and services designed to protect the environment. The top sustainability trends include using clean energy or renewable options, efficient use of energy resources, sustainable agriculture and transport, recycling, and effective waste management practices. Ultimately, its solutions provide lower or comparable costs to those using fossil fuels or those engaging in poor environmental protection activities.
The cleantech sector faces challenges in adoption, lack of access to capital, industry inexperience, inadequate communities and support systems, and few entrepreneurs or startups offering sustainable solutions. Green technologies are expensive; they have high research and development (R&D) and implementation costs. There is also the worry of a lack of public awareness and participation in safeguarding mother nature.
How material tech startups in Southeast Asia are tackling recycling challenges and embracing sustainability
On the positive side, innovative eco-friendly solutions provide energy savings, fight global warming, reduce pollution and waste, and minimise soil, water, plastic, and air pollution. Furthermore, greentech creates jobs, protects vulnerable communities, conserves natural resources, and delivers sustainable energy production. The industry has experienced many advancements in food production, solar photovoltaic systems, waste management, energy production, logistics, farming, and more.
Globally, the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region is the biggest carbon dioxide emitter, contributing immensely to global warming. Trapping CO2 in the atmosphere is causing other harmful environmental impacts, such as melting ice caps, leading to rising sea levels. Projections show that over 15 million people in major cities like Bangkok and Jakarta are vulnerable to biological, hydro-meteorological, and natural disasters like floods and droughts.
Innovative sustainability trends
Thus, it is vital to analyse the application of sustainability trends in cleantech. They include:
With the advancement in battery technology and solar power systems, microgrids have gone from merely being alternative installations on the electric grid to becoming independent power suppliers. Initially intended for use during natural disasters or blackouts, microgrids are now usable as sustainable alternatives to supply energy in homes and schools.
When used effectively, microgrids can boost energy efficiency by up to 60%. Microgrids can help industries reduce their reliance on the electric grid and provide connectivity for renewable energy sources in the factory, which reduces their carbon footprint.
Low carbon construction
The construction industry uses many materials that can harm the environment, for example, air pollutants and much wastage is involved, with many raw materials or mixtures dumped in the trash and landfills. Low-carbon construction involves using sustainable raw materials and processes to reduce the environmental impact of building.
Low-carbon construction includes using concrete alternatives like hemp, biodegradable plaster options like rice husk, bamboo-based interiors and flooring, plant-based walls, and biodegradable insulation materials. Moreover, additional solutions like smart windows can help with energy savings for the home by enabling a smooth flow of air to provide cooling instead of switching on fans.
Carbon capture, use and storage
With more investments in mitigating greenhouse emissions, experts have developed an innovative technique for capturing and storing carbon. Carbon capture, Use, and Storage (CCUS) ensures that CO2 emissions from industrial and manufacturing facilities and power plants are captured and upcycled into valuable products like carbon-based plastics. The CO2 can be stored underground to prevent it from going to the atmosphere, or CCUS technologies like artificial photosynthesis systems can absorb the gas.
For areas that are challenging to bring electricity into, CCUS technologies decarbonise those sectors using equipment like direct air capture systems. Other companies provide innovative products that enable their customers to capture carbon while accessing carbon credit options.
Many industries are becoming more efficient and effective due to automation. The introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) is playing a significant role in many sectors by managing repetitive tasks and other pre-programmed functions. Nevertheless, automation can also impact sustainability by controlling appliances like smart thermostats, optimising product settings to get the most efficient option, and reducing energy wastage by shutting down equipment that is not in use.
Automation works well in factories, with the implantation of sensors in critical locations. The sensors will collect data and send it to software that can interpret it and provide actionable insights. By having such data available, industries can set their preferences and enable machinery to perform functions at appropriate times and reduce energy wastage.
Southeast Asia’s high energy demands mean the region has to boost its renewable energy production and focus on building up its cleantech ecosystem to ensure its citizens enjoy a pollution and emission-free location. The top sustainability trends listed above are examples of a more comprehensive drive globally to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change and global warming.
Regional governments can work together to enhance their power supply grids and invest in sustainable energy infrastructure. They should also seek cooperation from all businesses and stakeholders and educate the public to adopt more eco-friendly options.