Photo: A cleantech delegation from East Germany discussed innovative water technologies at a CleanTech Alliance Washington program earlier this week.
The term “cleantech” may bring to mind renewable energy solutions such as wind and solar, or electric cars and green building. You might not know that the sector also includes water technology. A delegation representing East Germany’s cleantech sector with a focus on water technology visited Greater Seattle this week to learn more about our burgeoning cleantech sector and promote opportunities for partnership and collaboration.
The story of East Germany’s cleantech sector is an inspiring one. According to representatives from Germany Trade and Invest, at the time of reunification in the 1990s East Germany faced major environmental challenges due to decades of unchecked industrial pollution. In fact, East Germany was the biggest per capita producer of sulfur dioxide in the world in 1984. Environmental and clean tech technologies were developed out of necessity.
Today, Germany scores high in categories related to environmental health and sustainability. The 2018 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) - a biennial report produced by the World Economic Forum, Yale and Columbia Universities - ranks Germany 13th in the world, ahead of the US and Canada. In 2016, the market for environmentally friendly energy generation, energy efficiency, sustainable water management and other environmental technologies accounted for 15 percent of German GDP.
Sustainable water technology is the segment that is anticipated to grow the fastest in Germany. The global market for water recycling technologies is estimated to increase 14.8 percent from 2016 to 2025, according to Germany Trade and Invest. This segment includes technologies that reduce wastewater, treat sewage and eliminate pollutants in surface and ground water.
The Greater Seattle region is also a center for water technology. Tacoma-based Center for Urban Waters leverages research and analysis to develop sustainable solutions to restore urban waterways. The Center is also home to Washington State’s Clean Water Technology Innovative Partnership Zone, an effort to grow water technology in Tacoma.
The delegation that represented the East German states of Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt and the Technical University of Berlin had the chance to check out some of the nascent technologies being developed by Greater Seattle innovators at the CleanTech Innovation Showcase this week. Greater Seattle and Washington State’s relationship with Germany encompasses investment, aerospace, R&D, business, sister city relationships and more. Collaboration in the field of clean tech and water technology is an opportunity to grow the relationship while combatting the effects of climate change.