The green tech action is getting so hot that the European Environment Agency has produced the European Environmental Technology Atlas, so you can map onto where the ‘eco-innovation’ is happening. Environmental technologies are defined as “all technologies preventing or treating pollution, managing resources or using them more cost efficiently”, and they cover a broad range of different technologies and market areas.

A recent study for the German Federal Ministry of the Environment and the Federal Environmental Agency found that Europe leads in the markets for biodiesel, with a global market share of 85%; biogas plants (75%); pellet heating (72%); and wind power (67%). Certain countries tend to dominate in green tech, in terms of both markets and innovation. They include Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, the Scandinavian countries, Spain and the UK. Germany is the big daddy, with particular strengths in solar, biofuels, biogas, hydrogen-based energy, and waste management. Austria leads in wood pellet boilers; Sweden in district heating, use of biomass and sustainable construction; Finland in biofuels and anything to do with wood; Denmark in wind power; and Spain in solar power.

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These strengths are creating new companies and new business models and, as well as growing across Europe, these businesses are now seeking to go global. They are looking both west at the North American market, and east to the Asia-Pacific growth markets. This is a major opportunity for the growth of European companies. The title of the newsletter for the EU Environmental Technologies Action Plan sums it up nicely: Clean, Clever, Competitive.

Douglas Clark is director of Tenon techlocate, the London-based location consultancy of the Tenon Group, a UK national firm of accountants and business advisers.

E-mail:douglas.clark@tenongroup.com