First published on the Cleantech Investor website, April 2013
By John O’Brien
As I have written in Cleantech magazine on previous occasions, Australia has a slightly schizophrenic relationship with cleantech. It has all the characteristics of a country that should be leading the cleantech world: excellent research capability, mature financial markets, exceptional renewable energy resources, erratic water supplies and very high emissions per capita. However, there is limited interest in uptake from industry, and even less from investors focused on the next patch of 'rich dirt'. This has not been assisted by the dark green environmentalists who demand sacrificing the economy to save the world. This situation is familiar in many countries, but it feels more extreme in Australia.
The development of cleantech clusters, however, is helping to create a more rational debate and increased interest both from industrial customers and from investors of all sizes. There are a number of interlinked clusters active in the Australian market and each serves a slightly different purpose, as discussed below. Jointly, they are allowing a step change in the credibility of and interest in the cleantech sector. In addition, there have been some tangible success stories that are helping to build momentum and generate returns at all levels.